Rugby Championship: Record-breaking Argentina thrash Australia in San Juan

Colin Newboult

Argentina finally produced an 80-minute performance against Australia to get off the mark in the Rugby Championship following a hugely impressive 48-17 triumph on Saturday.

Los Pumas usually start well against the Wallabies before seeing their opponents have a second-half surge to snatch victory, but the hosts had no such problems in San Juan as they recorded their biggest ever win over the green and gold.

Just like in the opening weekend of the competition, Michael Cheika’s men were the dominant team in the first half. The home side held a 19-10 lead in Round One but they went seven better on Saturday as tries for Juan Imhoff, Thomas Gallo, Jeronimo de la Fuente and Juan Martin Gonzalez gave them a 26-10 advantage at the interval.

James Slipper touched down for Dave Rennie’s outfit and James O’Connor kicked a conversion and a penalty, but they struggled for fluency throughout the contest.

Los Pumas were much the better team throughout and eased to victory thanks to Gallo, Emiliano Boffelli and Tomas Albornoz tries in the second period.

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As mentioned, Argentina often enjoy the opening 40 minutes in matches against Australia and Saturday’s encounter was no different.

Once again, the visitors were caught cold and in the first minute Cheika’s charges found space on the left where Imhoff was lurking.

The wing kicked ahead and put pressure on the Aussie backfield, who failed to deal with the bouncing ball, and the speedster collected to scamper over.

A few minutes later Los Pumas had their second try when Gallo barged across the whitewash from close range, opening up a 14-point buffer.

Australia responded through Slipper before O’Connor kicked a conversion and then a penalty to bring them to within a try of the hosts.

After a difficult start, Rennie’s team were on the front foot and thought they had another score when O’Connor touched down, but it was ruled out for an earlier infringement.

It was to prove a big turning point as Argentina almost immediately benefited from that let off. The hosts set up an attack in the opposition 22 and De la Fuente took an excellent line to weave his way over, despite pulling a hamstring in the process.

Los Pumas had been exceptional but the Wallabies were also aiding the home side by making a series of errors and when O’Connor failed to deal with a high ball, Gonzalez was on hand to take possession and cross the whitewash.

No Aussie comeback this time around

Argentina duly held a comfortable 16-point buffer going into the second half, but it’s usually at that point they fold and let the Aussies back into the contest. However, there was no such issue this time around.

Los Pumas weren’t quite as free-flowing, especially in the third quarter, but they defended resiliently and forced the visitors into mistakes.

One such Australian indiscretion led to Boffelli extending Argentina’s lead via a three-pointer before Gallo touched down for the second time to effectively complete the win.

The Wallabies also had Fraser McReight sin-binned following a series of infringements leading up to the prop going over.

Although they responded well to going down to 14 men when Len Ikitau touched down, Argentina finished with a flourish and were rewarded with tries for Boffelli and Albornoz to wrap up a comprehensive win.

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