Argentina snapped a 13-match losing streak against the Wallabies in Australia with a 23-19 win on the Gold Coast. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
With the full-time hooter having sounded, the Wallabies launched one last attack and it looked as if they would score a match-winning try when Israel Folau beat a defender and got within 5m of the line. All he had to do was pass to an unmarked Bernard Foley on his outside and Australia would surely have scored. Instead, he backed himself and lost the ball in the tackle.
The final whistle went and the Pumas celebrated a first win against the Wallabies away from home since 1983. It will be especially sweet for Argentina head coach Mario Ledesma, who spent two years as Australia’s forwards coach.
While far from a classic, this was an absorbing contest from start to finish.
Nicolás Sánchez opened the scoring with a penalty goal, but it was the Wallabies who got the first try. Dane Haylett-Petty’s one-handed offload in the tackle found Reece Hodge, whose inside pass put Will Genia away.
The Pumas hit back soon after when Jeronimo de la Fuente stepped inside Hodge, and while was brought to ground by Tatafu Polota-Nau, a pop pass put Sánchez after for a self-converted try.
The Wallabies responded with a brilliant individual try from Folau, who burst through a gap between two defenders on Argentina’s 10m line and beat another three before diving over in the left-hand corner.
The Pumas were unlucky not to add to their tally when De la Fuente collected a kick inside his own half and took off on a darting run that saw him beat four defenders, including Folau. He passed back inside to Sánchez, who raced away to score, but TV replays showed the wing had put a foot in touch while still in possession.
However, the visitors did strike again late in the half, following a storming run from Pablo Matera, who took play from inside his 22 to over halfway. The ball was then sent wide to Bautista Delguy, with the wing cutting back inside, shaking off the tackle of Haylett-Petty and scoring next to the posts. Sánchez’s conversion saw his side lead 17-14 at the break.
The Pumas had yet another try ruled out early in the second half. Delguy chased down Matera’s grubber kick into the Wallabies’ 22 and Emiliano Boffelli picked up his pass on the bounce to score, but the TMO correctly ruled that the ball had gone forward from the wing. Sánchez did extend the Pumas’ lead with a penalty goal soon afterwards, though.
On the 50-minute mark, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika replaced Matt Toomua with flyhalf Foley and shifted Kurtley Beale from 10 to 12. And Foley had a hand in his side’s next try, drifting across-field before passing to Hodge, who put Haylett-Petty over. Foley’s conversion went wide.
Sánchez and Hodge were then unsuccessful with penalty-goal attempts, before a long-range effort from Boffelli in the 76th minute extended the Pumas’ lead to four.
There was more drama to come, though, as Folau botched a golden opportunity to snatch victory.
Wallabies – Tries: Will Genia, Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty. Conversions: Matt Toomua (2).
Argentina – Tries: Nicolás Sánchez, Bautista Delguy. Conversions: Nicolás Sánchez (2). Penalties: Sánchez (2), Boffelli.
Wallabies – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Will Genia, 8 Peter Samu, 7 David Pocock (c), 6 Lukhan Tui, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Ned Hanigan, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Bernard Foley, 23 Jack Maddocks.
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortego Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Augustin Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Bautista Ezcurra, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia.
Photo: Albert Perez/Getty Images