Samu Kerevi scored two tries as the Wallabies ended their Rugby Championship campaign with a 33-21 win over Argentina in London on Saturday.
The result means that Australia, despite their horrible run of form this year, will finish second in the Rugby Championship standings with 14 log points, while the struggling Springboks, with a measly 10 log points, have to settle for third spot.
The first Rugby Championship Test played outside the perimeters of the southern hemisphere was a mixed bag of excellent interplay, pitiful defence, dismal handling and poor discipline from both sides.
Argentina were playing with the ambition of the All Blacks, but not quite the same execution. The Wallabies were commendable on attack but played with a complete absence of discipline when they were on the back foot and conceded two yellow cards for high tackles. What bailed the Wallabies out was the wayward kicking of Argentina’s Santiago González Iglesias, a late replacement for injured sharpshooter Nicolás Sánchez.
Argentina started better than their opponents and crossed the tryline as early as the second minute on the back of two charged-down kicks. However, after a lengthy deliberation between match officials, the try was overturned as González Iglesias was deemed to have played the ball from an offside position.
Aided by that official call, Australia immediately made Argentina pay with a try by Adam Coleman. A poor kick chase allowed winger Dane Haylett-Petty to run into space before releasing the lock to score. Foley nailed the conversion and a penalty to put his team 10-0 up. But while the Wallabies turned their opportunities into points, Argentina struggled to get on the board after González Iglesias missed two penalty attempts.
A series of high tackles by the Wallabies led to the sin-binning of star flanker Michael Hooper. Then, Argentina pounced.
Spurred on by the one-man advantage, Los Pumas injected pace into their attack. That had the Wallabies defence stretched and Matías Alemanno barged over from close quarters.
But while Australia conceded another yellow card (Coleman, this time) Argentina couldn’t profit. In fact, they leaked another try to centre Samu Kerevi as the Aussies took an 18-8 lead into the break.
In the second half, territory and possession belonged to Argentina, but their best attacking efforts were not matched on defence.
Jerónimo de la Fuente powered over the line after Argentina patiently carried the ball through the phases. But every time they scored, they conceded at the other end. This time, Kerevi scored after the ball squirted loose in midfield.
González Iglesias converted two penalty attempts to narrow the gap to four at 25-21.
But with six minutes remaining, the Wallabies scored 10 points, including an intercept try by Dean Mumm, to secure a bonus-point victory.
Argentina – Tries: Matías Alemanno, Jerónimo de la Fuente. Conversion: Santiago González Iglesias. Penalties: González Iglesias (3).
Wallabies – Tries: Adam Coleman, Samu Kerevi (2), Dean Mumm. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley (3).
Argentina – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Santiago González Iglesias, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Gabriel Ascarate, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Bernard Foley, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Scott Fardy, 21 Leroy Houston, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.
Photo: Dan Mullan/Getty Images