Wallabies edge Los Pumas in Brisbane
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP REPORT: The Wallabies have scrummaged their way to a 16-10 Rugby Championship victory over Argentina, with halfback Will Genia calling the shots in his Brisbane Test farewell.
The Japan-bound Queensland favourite handed Australia just their fifth win from the past 17 Tests and was cheered off after his 60-minute stint at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Argentina replied to Reece Hodge’s first-half try with six minutes to play to make it a six-point game, but the hosts controlled the ball from then on to eliminate any prospect of an agonising defeat.
Missed opportunities would have again frustrated coach Michael Cheika, but an improved defence and dominant set piece were both promising signs just three Tests out from September’s World Cup.
The Wallabies had their line crossed five tries in South Africa last weekend, but an improved defensive effort held the Pumas at bay until Facundo Isa scored after an 11-strong lineout drive.
In another encouraging sign flyhalf Christian Lealiifano was solid over his 51-minute contribution after starting in place of Bernard Foley while props James Slipper and Taniela Tupou both dominated after coming off the bench for Scott Sio and Sekope Kepu.
However, James O’Connor barely got a touch in his first Test action since 2013 after he centre Tevita Kuridrani with 10 minutes remaining.
Early on, Australia’s tardiness at the breakdown cost them twice when they were within striking distance, while frequent dropped ball also undermined their attack for a second straight weekend.
Yet Argentina’s ball security was no better, with the visitors blowing a try-scoring chance in the 26th minute.
Departing Reds captain Samu Kerevi put on one last show at his favourite stadium, but was denied a try assist when Kuridrani shelled an offload.
Fortunately Reece Hodge was more clinical when he had an opportunity to finish off a key attacking foray in the first half after fellow winger Marika Koroibete broke the line before the ball headed to the right flank.
Hodge wasn’t helped by a floated pass from Kurtley Beale but he coolly collected the transfer and stepped inside a defender before diving over.
The relief was palpable among a crowd of 31 599 who then enjoyed the Wallabies securing a spate of scrum penalties, a welcome development after Australia’s long-term scrummaging woes.
Man of the match: Isi Naisarani was a man possessed with ball in hand and he deserves the award. Special mention goes to Samu Kerevi who also had a strong game in open play.
Pens: Lealiifano 3
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Luke Jones, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 James O’Connor.
Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Matias Orlando
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)