Here’s our score and live review of the Wallabies versus the Argentine Los Pumas.
First Half - Wallabies 3 – Pumas 6
If they’d played ‘Yakety Sax’ from The Benny Hill Show as a soundtrack to this half it would have made sense. Barnes has hit the post twice for penalties, Samo dropped the ball trying to ground it in the corner and Sharpie was held up over the line.
The Wallabies have had 64% of the ball and 70% of the territory. The only threat from Argentina has come from intercepts and fly hacks. With just a bit of finishing the Wallabies could be 20 points up.
As ever they’re making yards with some sameway running, and then it slows, sputters, they go too wide and it all goes to crap. When they keep the pace up gaps appear, which Ioane and AAC are exploiting quite well.
Leading the blooper reel is Quade Cooper. Intercept passes, cold knock-ons, bungled clearances. Look for the lowlights reel on YouTube tomorrow.
On the plus side Kane Douglas has been having a belter and the scrum has been largely solid.
Quade Blooper takes it to a new level, donating a charge-down try to the Pumas just minutes in. 6-11
But then, within two minutes, the Wallabies forget to chase a Barnes bomb or realign in defence and the Argies go 60 metres to score. 6-16
Finally, some tighter forward play gets the Wallabies to the line and McCabe takes an angle to crash over. 13-19 in the 61st.
After a few more face-palm moments, include a brainfart where he tapped and booted the ball directly to touch off a free kick, Phipps makes a dart down the short side and connects with Diggers for a try in the 69th minute. With the conversion the Wallabies at last take the lead 20-19.
Forget what I said earlier about the scrums — they’ve started to seriously unhinge.
In the 75th minute the Wallabies snaffle a questionable penalty at the breakdown under pressure on their 22, get downfield and milk a collapsed maul penalty. It looks like Cooper is going to throw the Matador, he thinks better of it and instead Kurtley ‘Gilbert’ Beale steps up and slots a Bloem special. 23-19.
Typically Australia spills the restart giving the Pumas a shot in the wrong half of the field. The Pumas put a few phases together, but are eventually held up at a maul and the donga tolls.
FINAL SCORE: Wallabies 23 – Argentina 19
Yes, it was a win and ultimately the grafters in the team like Sharpe, Ioane, Hooper, Douglas and McCabe got the job done. Gutsy. When the Wallabies played more directly and did the simple things well, the rewards came.
But surely no one can deny that the level of play — the basic skills under pressure and the ability to enforce a game plan — was woeful. Those pining for a change in leadership of the coaching staff will rue this as the chance that got away, as some of the play in this game made the standard in the losses to Samoa and Scotland look respectable.
It would also be wrong not to praise Argentina who pressured at the tackle and breakdown all day and took the most of the opportunities that came their way. This is not a gimme year for the Pumas, they have hit the ground running and have made this a better competition already.
AUSTRALIA 23 (Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe tries Berrick Barnes 2 cons Barnes 2, Kurtley Beale pens) bt ARGENTINA 19 (Julio Farias Cabello, Tomas Leonardi tries Juan Martin Hernandez 3 pens) at Skilled Park. Referee: Wayne Barnes. Crowd: 22,278.