Wallabies end on a high
Wallabies end on a highSHARE
The Wallabies ended the Rugby Championship with a convincing 54-17 victory over the Pumas in Rosario.
Fullback Israel Folau was the star, taking full advantage of a license to thrill from coach Ewen McKenzie to bag three tries at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito.
The Wallabies revelled in a ball-in-hand approach and wings Adam Ashley-Cooper and Joe Tomane, prop Benn Robinson and replacement back Bernard Foley also crossed the tryline.
Centre Christian Leali'ifano kicked two conversions and two penalties before retiring injured at half-time, flyhalf Quade Cooper slotted a conversion and a penalty, and Foley kicked two conversions.
Centre Marcelo Bosch and scrum-half Martin Landajo claimed a try each for the Pumas while flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez converted both and kicked a penalty.
Australia turned over 25-10 ahead and the handsome victory contrasted sharply with that over Argentina last month in Perth, where they scraped home by one point.
The Wallabies could not improve on third place, though, finishing 19 points behind champions New Zealand and seven ahead of wooden spooners Argentina.
It was not the end Pumas centre Felipe Contepomi had envisaged to his record 87-cap career with the hosts failing to build on a brave show against the All Blacks in La Plata last weekend.
"That was a real confidence booster," Wallabies skipper and lock James Horwill said.
"There was effort from one to 15 and we are very pleased."
Bosch was saddened by the heavy loss: "We are playing against the best teams in the world and our mistakes were severely punished."
Australia attacked from the kick-off and were rewarded within three minutes when Folau took a Tomane pass and went over in the corner.
Leali'ifano, second highest scorer in the tournament this season behind South Africa flyhalf Morne Steyn, converted from the touchline.
The early reverse spurred the Pumas and they laid siege to the Australian line with scrum after scrum awarded to the home side inside the 22.
Referee Wayne Barnes eventually lost patience and yellow carded Wallaby prop James Slipper, but the visitors weathered the storm and flank Michael Hooper took the ball away from danger.
Leali'ifano and Sanchez exchanged penalties to leave Australia seven points in front half an hour into a high-tempo opening half.
A no-arms tackle by flank Pablo Matera meant 10 minutes in the sin bin and the Wallabies took full advantage as Ashley-Cooper and Folau scored tries.
Leali'ifano converted one and Australia were 25-3 ahead only to concede a late first-half try to Bosch, which Sanchez converted.
Folau completed his hat-trick of tries just two minutes into the second half with a clever inside pass from fly-half Quade Cooper setting him up.
Cooper converted and Australia were 32-10 ahead – a big lead that lasted seven minutes before Landajo touched down beside the post and Sanchez converted.
Another no-arms tackle, this time from lock Rob Simmons on Contepomi, led to a second yellow card for the Australians.
Cooper, deputising as goal-kicker, slotted a close-range penalty and it was 35-17 for the Wallabies as the game passed the hour mark.
Australia stretched that advantage when Tomane snatched a loose ball in midfield, burst through several tackles and sprinted to the line for a try Cooper failed to convert.
Contepomi left the field to a standing ovation before Robinson and Foley rubbed salt into gaping Argentine wounds with late tries that Foley converted.
Man of the match: Joe Tomane proved a real threat and broke the line often, but it is difficult to look past the clinical finishing of hat-trick hero Israel Folau.
Moment of the match: With nine tries there were plenty of options, but perhaps mos impressive was Pumas centre Marcelo Bosch's fine individual effort which saw him beat a number of defenders.
Villain of the match: Rob Simmons for his shoulder charge on Felipe Contepomi in his last Test.
Tries: Bosch, Landajo
Cons: Sanchez 2
Tries: Folau 3, Ashley-Cooper, Tomane, Robinson, Foley
Cons: Lealiifano 2, Cooper, Foley 2
Pens: Lealiifano 2, Cooper
Argentina: 15 Juan Martín Hernández, 14 Horacio Agulla, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe (captain), 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Julio Farías Cabello, 3 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 2 Eusebio Guiñazú, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Nahuel Lobo, 18 Matias Diaz, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Benjamín Macome, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Santiago Fernández, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Bernard Foley.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)