Andrew Kellaway was the Wallabies’ hero as he scored a hat-trick of tries in a 32-17 victory against the Pumas in their Rugby Championship Test on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
Australia were full value for their win as they dominated for long periods and eventually outscored Argentina five tries to two with Folau Fainga’a and Samu Kerevi crossing for their other five pointers, while Quade Cooper added a couple of conversions and a penalty.
For the Pumas, Thomas Gallo led the way as he scored a brace of tries which were both converted by Emiliano Boffelli, who also slotted a penalty.
The opening exchanges were evenly contested with both teams awarded kickable penalties during that period but Boffelli and Cooper were both off target with shots at goal.
The Wallabies eventually took the lead in the 10th minute courtesy of a penalty from Cooper after the Pumas were blown up for illegal scrummaging.
There was enterprising play from the teams over the next 15 minutes with both sides giving the ball plenty of air but poor option taking and unforced errors meant no points were scored during that period.
The match came alive in the 27th minute when Argentina were reduced to 14 men after Tomás Lavanini was yellow carded for taking out Izack Rodda illegally at a lineout inside his 22.
Reece Hodge put the ball into touch and from the resulting lineout the Wallabies launched a drive before Fainga’a crossed for the opening try in the 28th minute.
Five minutes later, Australia were on the attack again, at a lineout midway between Argentina’s 22 and the halfway line, and from the set-piece Fainga’a and Rob Valetini combined brilliantly before the latter threw an inside pass to Kellaway, who had an easy run-in over the try-line.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Argentina finished the half stronger and spent the last five minutes camped inside Wallabies territory. They could not cross the whitewash, however, and had to settle for a Boffelli penalty which meant Australia held a 15-3 lead at half-time.
The Wallabies drew first blood in the second half when three minutes after the restart Kerevi ran onto a well-timed pass from Cooper before barging over for his side’s third try.
10 minutes later, Kellaway found himself in space out wide inside Argentina’s 22 and he did well to shrug off a tackle from Santiago Chocobares before crossing for his second five-pointer.
Those two scores boosted the Wallabies’ confidence and just before the hour-mark Len Ikitau did brilliantly to draw in a couple of defenders before offloading to Kellaway, who cantered in for his third try.
With the game in the bag, the Wallabies took their foot off the pedal during the final quarter and the Pumas came back strongly and scored both their tries during that period.
In the 63rd minute, Argentina set up several phases close to Australia’s try-line before replacement prop Gallo, who was making his Test debut, burrowed his way over the try-line.
That score seemed to reinvigorate the Pumas and in the 73rd minute they were rewarded again when Gallo dotted down for the second time in similar fashion to his previous effort from close quarters.
Those tries gave some respectability to the final score and although Australia finished the contest with 14 players – after their captain Michael Hooper was yellow carded for a professional foul on defence – they managed to keep Argentina at bay during the game’s dying moments, and, in doing so, they secured a bonus-point victory.