Wallabies butcher victory at the death
A BRAIN explosion from Israel Folau when he butchered a match-winning try was the twisted final punchline when the bumbling Wallabies handed Argentina a first victory on Australian soil in 35 years. “Pass it Izzy!” Every voice in Cbus Super Stadium yelled or thought it, but the Wallabies’ great weapon went solo and had the ball dislodged with replacement five-eighth Bernard Foley unmarked outside him.
Folau was just two metres from the tryline when he chose to go himself, a decision that was impossible to fathom because a Foley five-pointer would have won the game.
Instead, a fresh round of inquisitions must begin after a 23-19 loss on the Gold Coast that was the first defeat to Argentina in Australia since an 18-3 crash at Ballymore in 1983.
All the crispness of the Wallabies’ two fine tries in the opening 20 minutes dissolved in an ordinary closing hour of scrappy line-out work, handling errors and poor mauling.
The Wallabies believe they are the running wizards of world rugby, but a little less adventure and more smarts would have grabbed this win.
Folau had earlier scored his 33rd Test try after 18 minutes, using one right foot step after another and several gear shifts before touching down in the left corner.
A Will Genia try was a beauty too, but the good was undone by two botched lineouts in prime attacking positions late in the first half, then three missed tackles that allowed the Pumas to score an 80m try way too easily.
It proved a sign of what was to come in the second half. ADAM Reynolds has gifted the NRL a perfectly-timed elixir by kicking South Sydney to a grand final qualifier against arch enemy the Sydney Roosters.
The Rabbitohs are now just 80 minutes away from the 2018 grand final after securing a controversial one-point win over St George Illawarra in front of 48,188 fans at ANZ Stadium last night.
On an historic night for Reynolds, the champion Souths halfback became the first player since Jason Taylor in 1997 to slot three field goals in a final.
Reynolds landed his last of three perfectly weighted field goals with just 18 seconds remaining in an incredible match that featured the lead changing three times in the final eight minutes.
More than 100 years of hatred between the Roosters and Rabbitohs will guarantee the code a rare sold-out crowd at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium next Saturday night.
The winner will play either Melbourne or Cronulla in this year’s grand final on September 30. The Dragons, one-time premiership favourites, bow out of the finals race after leading 12-11 with six minutes left.
Before Reynolds’ heroics, the Rabbitohs jumped to a 2-0 lead after a tackle from Leeson Ah Mau caught John Sutton high. The Dragons levelled through a penalty by Zac Lomax in the 12th minute.
But without the precision of Gareth Widdop’s kicking game (gone for the season with a shoulder injury) the Dragons fifth-tackle kicking options failed to deliver the necessary pressure on the Bunnies.
The gripping contest was crying for someone to standup and take charge. And in the absence of Widdop, Hymel Hunt – the Dragons’ halfback, produced a solo effort, showing and going from 15m to give his side an 8-2 lead at halftime.
A 53rd-minute penalty goal stretched the Dragons’ lead to 10-2, but the loss of NSW Origin forward Tariq Sims swung the match in favour of the Rabbitohs.
The ultimate response came in the 56th minute when Reynolds produced a superb one-two with Angus Crichton to score beneath the posts.
A cheap penalty against the Dragons then enabled Souths to level the match 10-10 in the 60th minute.
Ten minutes later they clinched an 11-10 lead with a Reynolds field goal, but the Bunnies’ advantage lasted just six minutes.
The Dragons looked set for victory after Lomax slotted a seemingly match-winning penalty goal for a 12-11 lead.
But Reynolds would have the final say.
He snapped a match-levelling field goal for a 12-12 scoreline in the 77th minute before producing the most important one-pointer of his career with just 18 seconds on the clock.
JUST SHORT: South Sydney forward Sam Burgess is brought to ground St George’s Jack De Belin in Sydney last night.