Five takeaways from Australia v Argentina

Date published: September 15 2018

Following a 23-19 victory for Argentina over Australia in their Rugby Championship game, here’s our five takeaways from the Gold Coast clash.

Argentina are revived under Mario Ledesma: It was pretty depressing watching Los Pumas during the latter stages of Daniel Hourcade’s tenure, but Ledesma has made an immediate impact. The question surrounding the former front-rower was whether he could translate the Jaguares’ success onto the international stage but, judging by his first four games, the signs are positive. Never before had they won two games in a single Rugby Championship campaign and they could make it three with a couple of matches to come at home.

Australia need a powerhouse number eight: It would be easy to say that the Wallabies missed Michael Hooper’s energy – and they did – but their back-row still looks unbalanced, even with him there. David Pocock and Hooper are rightly guaranteed selections but they are struggling to find the individual to feature alongside those two world-class players. Lukhan Tui, Pete Samu and Caleb Timu are all solid but they are not necessarily destructive carriers. Wycliff Palu had his critics but Australia have failed to truly replace him and, as a result, they do not get enough front-foot ball.

It’s a game of inches: Argentina had two tries correctly disallowed but, had the execution been right, they could have won the game by the early stages of the second period. Nicolas Sanchez was denied first of all when Ramiro Moyano’s foot scraped the touchline before Bautista Delguy was unable to find Emiliano Boffelli with an accurate pass, which prevented the full-back from scoring. It almost cost them when, in the last minute, Israel Folau came within inches of the line, only to knock the ball on and hand the visitors a thoroughly deserved victory.

Nicolas Sanchez is invaluable for Argentina: Although the entire Pumas team deserve credit for this win – their country’s first on Australian soil since 1983 – their fly-half deserves special praise as he continued with his impressive form in the competition and delivered another superb all-round performance in this encounter. As his side’s chief playmaker, Sanchez controlled the game well and impressed with his kicking out of hand and at goal. Eventually finished with a 12-point haul courtesy of a try, two conversions and a penalty and Ledesma must be praying that the 29-year-old does not get injured as he will be difficult to replace.

Israel Folau is still a great player: Despite costing his team victory with that error in judgement in the game’s dying moments, Folau is arguably the Wallabies’ best player as he came to the fore with another superb attacking display in this Test. Although he was not in his usual full-back position, the 29-year-old was a constant threat on attack from the right wing and showed his class by scoring a superb try. Eventually finished with a team-high 82 metres on attack which showed again why is one of the global game’s true stars.