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Australia scrape past Argentina

14th September 2013 12:56

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Israel Folau Aus v Arg RC 2013

Israel Folau: Scores the first try of the match

The Wallabies broke their Rugby Championship duck with a narrow 14-13 victory over Argentina in Perth on Saturday.

The win wasn't pretty but the hosts will take it, as it's the first under new coach Ewen McKenzie, and ends a four-match winless streak which stretches back to their loss in the series decider to the British and Irish Lions in July.

With most of the match played in driving rain and a howling wind there were plenty of handling errors and kicking for territory, especially during the opening half.

Los Pumas had the better of the early exchanges and took the lead in the eighth minute, via a Nicolas Sanchez penalty, after Nic Cummins was pinned for holding onto the ball at a ruck in front of his try-line.

The Wallabies soaked up the pressure and were soon level when Horacio Agulla committed a similar offence to Cummins within Christian Lealiifano's range.

Five minutes later, the Brumbies midfielder slotted another penalty after Argentina's front row was punished for illegal scrummaging.

But 10 minutes later Israel Folau left his stamp on the match with a try. The big full-back brushed off four tackles inside Argentina's 22 after being put into space by quick hand-speed from James O'Connor and Quade Cooper in the build-up.

Lealiifano failed to convert and for the remainder of the half the home side did most of the attacking but without any success. They were eventually rewarded when Lealiifano added another three-pointer, on the stroke of half-time, after the visitors were pinned for lazy running.

The sides went into the sheds with Australia leading 14-3 and, like in the first half, Argentina piled on the pressure after the re-start.

They spent most of the opening 10 minutes of the half camped inside Australia's 22 but the Wallabies' defended resiliently and los Pumas failed to add to their score during this period.

As expected Argentina dominated the scrums, and they pushed the Wallabies off the ball on at least three occasions. In the 55th minute, such an offence gave them another chance to narrow the home side's lead but Sanchez's shot at goal fell just short of the uprights.

He made up for that miss with his second penalty, five minutes later, after Australia were penalised once again for a scrum infringement.

And they got to within a point of the lead when Juan Manuel Leguizamón scored a converted try, from close quarters, after running onto a superb offload from Felipe Contepomi in the 65th minute.

To their credit, Australia didn't panic and although Lealiifano missed two further shots at goal, within the last 10 minutes, their defence held firm and denied Argentina their first ever win since joining the tournament last year.

Man of the Match: Nic White deserves a mention, for a solid display in trying conditions, in his first start to a Test but Argentina's front row gets our vote for another dominant display in the scrums.

Moment of the match: With the game being played in atrocious conditions, there wasn't much expansive play but another moment of brilliance from Israel Folau ultimately sealed the win for the Wallabies

Villain of the Match: Nothing to report here as nobody misbehaved.

The scorers:

For Australia:
Try: Folau
Pens: Lealiifano 3

For Argentina:
Try: Leguizamón
Con: Sanchez
Pen: Sanchez 2

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 James O'Connor, 13 Adam-Ashley Cooper, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Will Genia, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.

Argentina: 15 Juan Martin Hernandez, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Gonzalo Tiesi, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Thomas Cubelli, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 5 Julio Farias Cabello, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Eusebio Guiñaz, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Mariano Galarza, 20 Benjamín Macome, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Santiago Fernández, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

By David Skippers

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