Wallabies player ratings: Mark Nawaqanitawase’s late heroics fall short in a crushing defeat

Jared Wright
Mark Nawaqanitawase of the Wallabies celebrates after scoring a try during the eToro Rugby Championship Test match between the Australian Wallabies and the Argentina Pumas at CommBank Stadium in Sydney

Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqanitawase of the Wallabies celebrates after scoring a try against Argentina.

Following the agonising 34-31 defeat to Argentina in round two of the Rugby Championship, here are our player ratings for the Wallabies.

15 Tom Wright: Fortuitously stopped Rodrigo Isgro from scoring in the 43rd minute while he had few real opportunities to spread his legs in attack. 5

14 Mark Nawaqanitawase: Rolled the dice with a quick tap, but it paid off as he got a brilliant offload away, leading to the opening try. He looked to have sealed the win for the Wallabies with a well-taken 80-metre intercept try in the latter stages of the game, but it was not to be. Did make a couple of missed tackles, but overall, he was excellent. 8 

13 Len Ikitau: Finished off his chance well and looked dangerous in attack and sharp on defence for his 17-minute cameo before being forced off with a nasty-looking injury that he sustained in the act of scoring. A real concern going forward for the Wallabies. 6

Kerevi impresses after losing centre partner

12 Samu Kerevi: Great touch to set up his centre partner with a catch and give from an average pass. He backed up his assist with a try and covered well on defence when Ikitau was forced off. He is not quite back to his best, but he is trending positively, and this was a strong outing from the physical midfielder. 7

11 Marika Koroibete: The winger was lucky to get away with a no-arms tackle off the ball, but again it was on the attack that he made his mark. He regularly made inroads into the Argentine defence but missed more than he made on the other side of the ball. 5

10 Quade Cooper: A more assertive performance from the playmaker who remarkably got his hands on the ball more this week than the previous game, despite the lack of possession against Argentina. Picked up a try assist and defended bravely with little error, despite the Pumas flooding his channel. 6

9 Nic White: Put under pressure with his box kicks in the opening stages, but this was a much-improved performance compared to last week from the veteran nine. He adjusted quickly to score in the second half while, on the whole, his kicking accuracy was far better. 6

Big defensive shifts

8 Rob Valetini: The top tackler for the Wallabies as the pack were kept busy by the Pumas’ attack. The number eight made 22 tackles in total and proved to be difficult to bring to ground with the few carries he did have. He stupidly reacted to reverse a penalty in a good position for his side which proved pivotal. 7

7 Fraser McReight: Tireless workmanlike performance from the openside flanker in statement outing. The Pumas dominated possession for long periods of the game, and McReight led the charge defensively, racking up 20 tackles in the first hour without missing. 7

6 Jed Holloway: A safe lineout option for hooker Dave Porecki to hit while he was accurate and disciplined. A tidy 55-minute performance with little fuss. 6

Tight five

5 Will Skelton: A more destructive performance from the abrasive Wallabies second-row. He hasn’t quite been able to translate his dominance in Europe to international rugby, but this was a vast improvement from the shift he produced against South Africa. He did concede two penalties, too. 6

4 Richie Arnold: He visited the sin bin as a result of an accumulation of penalties for his side as he conceded the final one. Like his second-row partner, Arnold was vastly better this week than last and ran the Wallabies lineout well. Solid without being a standout. 6

3 Allan Alaalatoa: Got the better of Thomas Gallo in the scrums and was another front-row who made a boatload of tackles making over 20. A big game in the trenches from the tighthead, but three penalties conceded hurt his ratings. 6

2 David Porecki: Beaten by Mateo Carreras in the final quarter but prior to that, the hooker had a solid game, racking up a substantial tackle count. His lineout throws were accurate for the most part too. 6

1 James Slipper: The Wallabies did concede one penalty early on at the scrum, but outside of that, it was one-way traffic at the set-piece, with Slipper dominating Francisco Gomez-Kodela and later Eduardo Bello. He also put in a busy defensive shift. An assertive captain’s innings. 7

Replacements: Carter Gordon was the real standout from the bench as he came on to replace Ikitau early on in the game. While the Aussies’ midfield defence struggled at times out without Ikitau, Gordon had some impressive moments, almost scoring a try after scooping up a loose ball and stopping a Pumas score with an intercept in his 22. Matt Phillip had a strong cameo replacing Skelton. 6

READ MORE: Argentina late show seals narrow victory over Australia in Sydney