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Pumas close but no cigar

15th September 2012 12:50

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The great escape: Australia come from behind to down Pumas

Argentina stood on the brink of a remarkable first victory in the Rugby Championship before Australia rallied to prevail 23-19 on Saturday.

The Pumas looked on course for a famous win after two quick-fire tries saw the tournament newcomers lead 19-6 with just over a quarter of the match remaining.

However, the Wallabies showed superb composure and scored 17 unanswered points to hit the front and deny the South Americans who once again proved to be mighty tough opponents.

Ruthless and relentless, the unforgiving Argentineans pounded the shell-shocked Wallabies for 59 minutes before tries by Pat McCabe and Digby Ioane edged them in front.

A late Kurtley Beale penalty gave the hosts some breathing space, before the Wallabies were forced to defend their line in the dying stages to avert what would have been an embarrassing defeat.

The Pumas powered their way to a deserved 6-3 lead at half-time after Argentina pivot Juan Martin Hernandez and Australia centre Berrick Barnes traded penalties in a tense first-half. The Wallabies could've hit the front before the break had number eight Radike Samo not lost the ball when diving over the line.

Barnes made it six apiece from right in front eight minutes into the second-half, but it didn't get any easier for Australia when Tomas Leonardi charged down Quade Cooper's kick for a opportunistic try.

The Pumas looked to have delivered the knock-out blow when two minutes later, replacement Juan Imhoff sprinted along the touchline before passing inside to Julio Faras Cabello for a sensational score and an upset looked on the cards.

Hernandez missed the conversion from far out, leaving the score at 16-6, but made no mistake with a penalty to extend his side's lead to 13 points over the Wallabies.

Australia's reply finally came on the hour when sustained pressure finally broke down the Argentine defence and McCabe charged in from close range.

Barnes struck a simple conversion to make it 13-19 and eight minutes later winger Ioane reduced the deficit to a single point when he latched onto Nick Phipps's pass to score after the scrum-half had broken up the left.

Barnes' conversion made it 20-19 and saw Australia take the lead for the first time in the match with just 10 minutes to go, albeit by a single point. And inside the final minute Beale stretched the lead to four points with a penalty to end Argentine hopes of a dream win and ensure under-pressure coach Robbie Deans will sleep somewhat easier this week.

The win moved the Wallabies (eight points) into second place on the tournament standings - eight points behind New Zealand (16) who have a vice-like grip on the series with just two rounds to play.

Man of the match: Hats off to the entire Pumas team for yet another physical display that would have left the Wallabies battered and bruised. But we thought Julio Faras Cabello made up for his yellow card shown last week against the All Blacks with a strong performance that included a try while his monster hits a real feature in a physical Test that was perfect for him.

Moment of the match: Cabello's try would have had Robbie Deans chewing the last of his finger nails off, but Pat McCabe's score proved to the beginning of the end for the Pumas.

Villain of the match: Yes, McCabe's yellow for a foul play was a fair call. But talk about going from zero to hero...

The scorers:

For Australia:
Tries: McCabe, Ioane
Cons: Barnes 2
Pens: Barnes 2, Beale

For Argentina:
Tries: Leonardi, Cabello
Pens: Hernandez 3

Australia: 15 Berrick Barnes, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Nathan Sharpe (capt), 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore/Saia Fainga'a, 17 James Slipper, 18 Scott Higginbotham, 19 Liam Gill, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Anthony Fainga'a, 22 Kurtley Beale.

Argentina: 15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (capt), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Faras Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodriguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

By Dave Morris

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