This was one of the most inexperienced Wallabies team to have ever taken the field after coach Robbie Deans was forced to use 38 players this season due to the high number of injuries.
The Wallabies went to Argentina with many expecting an ambush and possibly Dean’s last coaching assignment at Test level but even though it wasn’t perfect he did enough to get them across the line in Rosario to secure his tenuous position for another season at least. The atmosphere in Rosario was electric with the Pumas striving for their first Rugby Championship victory against the depleted Wallabies but their first indiscretions gave Wallabies fullback Mike Harris five opportunities which he didn’t miss to ensure that the Wallabies went into the half time break leading 15-9. South African referee Craig Joubert was at his pedantic best penalising both teams constantly for errors at the break down not allowing both teams to settle into any rhythm which lead to a scrappy first half.
The Wallabies were trying to throw the ball around but their new backline with Kurtley Beale directing play at first five struggled to spread the ball across the field although they had the better of the play in the first forty minutes of the game. At the beginning of the second half both teams had trouble with controlling the football in hot greasy conditions at Rosario dropping the football constantly and lowering the standard to Test rugby. The Pumas never looked threatening in the first half but were gradually starting to put some concerted pressure on the Wallabies when they had a lineout inside the Wallabies twenty two. A wayward throw in by Pumas hooker Eusebio Guinazo went straight into the hands of young Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper who ran sixty metres downfield before being tackle by the Pumas defence.
From the ensuing scrum in the 65th minute the Wallabies backline finally executed a perfect move from set play to send winger Digby Ioane between the posts to score their first and only try of the match. With the match seemingly out of the grasp of the Pumas 25-12 they managed to get across the line when replacement centre Juan Imhoff scored in the 76th minute but by this stage the Wallabies controlled the match.
The finally score of 25-19 reflected the difference in the match with the Wallabies looking more threatening that the Pumas who suffered because of their ill-discipline around the ruck area which was quickly picked up by Joubert. There was a lot of handling mistakes by both teams which made to match a little scrappy with the Wallabies doing enough to ensure victory with a team that is far away from being their strongest XV. Kurtley Beale improved from his performance in South Africa two weeks ago and he looks like staying on the front line particularly with his mate Quade Cooper still to make up his mind what he future with Australian rugby will be. Wallabies captain Nathan Sharpe became the most capped Wallabies forward with 111 Test caps edging ahead of George Smith but I doubt that he will get close to George Gregan who sits at 139 caps.
The win against Argentina secured Australia second position in this year’s inaugural Rugby Championship and their victory make keep the wolves at bay until the Wallabies play the All Blacks again in Brisbane in two weeks. The Pumas should be proud of their sterling performance in their first full season against the big three nations in world rugby. Their draw against South Africa in Mendoza 16 all was an outstanding effort as was their narrow lose to the Wallabies a few weeks back and they will continue to get better over the next few years with more experience on their side.