Hodge brace wins it for Wallabies
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT: Reece Hodge bagged a brace of tries to secure a bonus-point 37-20 victory over Argentina in Mendoza, to secure second place in the Rugby Championship.
It was a ding-dong affair as the teams matched each other throughout the match but Australia made the most of their extra man in the final 10 minutes to claim the victory. The Wallabies had a slender seven-point lead going into the final 10 minutes before adding a further 10 points as Argentina struggled to keep the visitors at bay.
The opening 10 minutes saw both teams eager to run the ball at every opportunity, however, whatever momentum they managed to build came to nothing as handling errors proved to be their downfall.
The scoreboard finally ticked over in the 15th minute when Bernard Foley put Australia ahead with a regulation penalty after Argentina were caught in an offside position in front of the uprights. Foley missed a chance to put his side further ahead in the 19th minute when he pushed his second penalty attempt wide of the goal.
However, that miss mattered little as Australia secured the restart and the ball was sent through the hands to find Marika Koroibete on the left touchline. He showed his speed and power as he raced away to dot down in the corner. Foley failed to add the extras as the visitors held an 8-0 lead after 21 minutes.
Argentina came fighting back though as they managed to maintain possession long enough to launch their first meaningful attack. They took the ball through the phases before Matias Alemanno used his massive frame to bash his way over from close range. Sanchez added the extras to see the home side trail 7-8 after 26 minutes.
Argentina had their tails up from that point and maintained the pressure on the opposition. The pressure culminated in a kickable penalty and Sanchez obliged as he put the home side 10-8 ahead on the half-hour mark.
That lead turned into a deficit as Australia came bashing and clever work by Will Genia saw him find Reece Hodge in acres of space out wide. The wing got his hands on the ball before cantering over for an easy try. Foley was once again off target with the conversion as Australia's lead remained at 13-10 after 36 minutes.
The ding dong affair continued as Australia infringed at the breakdown from the restart to hand Sanchez another kickable penalty. He made no mistake as he levelled matters at 13-13 after 37 minutes.
Australia hit the ground running in the second half but unforced errors continued to plague them. Foley was certainly not having a good game from the kicking tee as he missed another penalty attempt that would have seen him hand the visitors an early second-half lead.
The visitors maintained the pressure on their opponents and dominant the possession and territory from that point. Showing patience by taking the ball through some phases, the ball found Foley who sniped through a gap to dot down under the uprights. He added the easy conversion to ensure a 20-13 lead after 53 minutes.
Back came Argentina once again as they placed the Wallabies under pressure inside their 22. Good patience was showed as they spread the ball to Jeronimo de la Fuente, who spotted a gap and burst over the line. Sanchez popped over the conversion to level matters at 20-20 after 57 minutes.
The Wallabies hit back three minutes later when Hodge ran a cutting line and burst through a tackle before releasing Genia, who raced 30 metres to grab his side's fourth try. Foley added the extras to take a 27-20 lead after 63 minutes.
Australia were now in firm control as they put the Argentinians under immense pressure but the home side managed to hold out as the teams remained separated by seven points by the 70th minute. However, the visitors had an extra man for the remainder of the match as Marcos Kremer was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tip tackle.
Foley slotted the resulting penalty to extend his side's lead to 30-20 after 71 minutes.
Argentina looked to fight their way back into the game but Australia maintained their composure on defence before launching a counter-attack. The ball found Samu Kerevi on the touchline. He sprinted away before offloading to Hodge on his inside, who sprinted away for his brace.
Foley's conversion put the result to bed as Australia led 37-20 after 78 minutes.
Man of the match: It was the usual suspects who worked tirelessly for Argentina. Agustin Creevy led the charge up front and was ably supported by Pablo Matera. Martin Landajo controlled matters well while Jeronimo de la Fuente and Joaquin Tuculet were dangerous with ball in hand. Australia's tight five stood up to the challenge while Will Genia showed why he is one of the best scrumhalves on the international stage. Marika Koroibete was a handful to stop but our award goes to the two-try hero, Reece Hodge.
Moment of the match: Argentina kept themselves in the game until the 70th minute before the complexity of things changed when they were reduced to 14-men.
Villain of the match: Marcos Kremer certainly cost his side the chance of pulling off an unlikely victory when he needlessly put in a dangerous tip-tackle.
Tries: Alemanno, de la Fuente
Cons: Sanchez 2
Pens: Sanchez 2
Tries: Koroibete, Hodge 2, Foley, Genia
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 2
Yellow card: Marcos Kremer (Argentina, 70 - dangerous tackle)
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Benjamin Macome, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Samu Kerevi, 23 Henry Speight.
Date: Saturday, October 7
Venue: Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza
Kick-off: 19.40 (22.40 GMT; 08.40, Sunday, October 8, AEST)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)