Aus­tralia rally to down Pu­mas 45-20 in Can­berra

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralia scored five sec­ond-half tries to rally to their first vic­tory of this year’s Rugby Cham­pi­onship with a 45-20 win over Ar­gentina at a chilly Can­berra Sta­dium yes­ter­day. Full­back Is­rael Fo­lau scored tries ei­ther side of half­time and Sekope Kepu, Will Ge­nia, Nick Phipps and Jor­dan Ue­lese also crossed to se­cure a bonus point vic­tory.

Fly­half Bernard Fo­ley con­verted all six tries and kicked a penalty to help the Wal­la­bies back to win­ning ways af­ter they lost twice to the All Blacks and drew with the Springboks in their first three matches of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Ar­gentina led 13-10 at half­time af­ter bul­ly­ing their hosts in the back-row con­test but a first half try from Martin Lan­dajo and a bril­liant late con­so­la­tion from Ma­tias Moroni were not enough for a first win in Aus­tralia since 1983.

Michael Cheika was de­lighted with the im­prove­ment af­ter the break, even more so be­cause it was in­spired by the play­ers them­selves rather than a half­time talk from the Wal­la­bies coach. “I didn’t say too much, they said it all, they knew what was go­ing on,” Cheika said. “They didn’t hide from the lack of ur­gency and in­ten­sity and the need to pick it up.

“We know we let our­selves down in the first half.” The Pu­mas head back to Ar­gentina for their fi­nal two matches still search­ing for their first win of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship with only one vic­tory, over Ge­or­gia, in seven matches this year. “We didn’t have a good sec­ond half, we were too pas­sive on de­fence,” said coach Daniel Hour­cade. “When we had the chance to score, we didn’t and that was the match.”

Aus­tralia opened the scor­ing through Fo­ley’s penalty but Ar­gentina were dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion and Ni­co­las Sanchez lev­elled the scores in the 15th minute af­ter the Pu­mas pack had rolled a maul deep into the home 22.

The Pu­mas butchered an op­por­tu­nity to score the first try in the 20th minute when Sanchez’s pass to Emil­iano Bof­felli went for­ward but scrumhalf Lan­dajo made no mis­take four min­utes later when he spun over the line from a ruck. The vis­i­tors con­tin­ued to make sure the game was be­ing played in the Aus­tralian half and it was not un­til the half-hour mark that the Wal­la­bies broke out to again square the con­test.

Fo­ley was twice in­volved in the sweep­ing move that sent Fo­lau over in the cor­ner, but the Pu­mas quickly re­sumed their ter­ri­to­rial stran­gle­hold and Sanchez slot­ted a sec­ond penalty to send his side into half­time with a slim lead.

Aus­tralia came out fir­ing at the start of the sec­ond half and prop Kepu bur­rowed over the line from close range for a con­verted try to put them ahead 17-13 af­ter 50 min­utes. The Wal­la­bies were now play­ing more di­rect rugby up front and got their re­ward with a sec­ond try three min­utes later when a lofted Will Ge­nia pass gave Fo­lau the space to cross again.

As the tem­per­a­ture plunged to­wards zero de­grees Cel­sius, Aus­tralia just about weath­ered a pe­riod of in­tense Ar­gen­tine pres­sure be­fore the flood­gates opened in the fi­nal 10 min­utes af­ter Pu­mas re­place­ment En­rique Pieretto had been sin-binned.

Scrumhalf Ge­nia cut through the de­fence to score in the 72nd minute, a sear­ing touch­line run and off­load from num­ber eight Sean McMa­hon gifted re­place­ment Phipps his try and rookie hooker Ue­lese barged over for his maiden test try af­ter the hooter. —Reuters

CAN­BERRA: Aus­tralia’s Michael Hooper, left, breaks a tackle from Ar­gentina’s Ma­tias Ale­manno and To­mas Lezana, right, dur­ing their rugby union test match in Can­berra, yes­ter­day. —AP

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