Wallabies guts out win over Pumas
A laser controversy couldn’t stop the severely-depleted Wallabies notching a Rugby Championship victory of great guts and character over Argentina.
In a momentous win which should ensure besieged coach Robbie Deans stays in his post at least until the end of the year, Australia overcame their terrible injury woes, a desperate Pumas side and rabid home crowd support for a 25-19 win.
Nowhere was the local desperation highlighted more than when some Rosario fans shone laser beams at stand-out playmaker Kurtley Beale, goalkicker Mike Harris and the ball as they lined up penalty attempts.
Red and green lasers could be seen as Harris lined up a crucial 56th minute attempt. The fullback stopped and complained to referee Craig Joubert but it continued before he missed – the only goal he failed to slot from eight attempts.
Skipper Nathan Sharpe implored his young, inexperienced team to handle the Argentinian hostility “like men, not boys” and they stood up in the pressure-cooker at the jam-packed Estadio Gigante de Arroyito.
A brilliant backline try, created by Beale and finished by Digby Ioane, in the 65th minute was the pivotal moment in the match – giving the Wallabies a 22-12 lead.
When rookie fullback Harris slotted his seventh goal from eight attempts Australia had a 13-point advantage with five minutes left and appeared home and hosed.
The Pumas hit back with winger Juan Imhoff plunging over from a maul to ensure a nervous last minute but the Wallabies deservedly clinched a win to savour in the slippery conditions.
There wasn’t too much that was pretty about the game but the result meant everything for the under-strength Wallabies and Deans.
It ensured they finished the tournament in second place, equal on 12 points with South Africa but ahead due to their superior amount of wins (3) – and could also see them climb back into second on the IRB world rankings.
In a patched-up backline, rookie trio Harris, centre Ben Tapuai and winger Nick Cummins handled the pressure brilliantly.
Flankers Michael Hooper and Scott Higginbotham were outstanding while five-eighth Beale was again a constant threat with the ball in hand and set up Ioane’s well-worked try by running to the line and dummying to decoys before putting the winger away.
Harris finished with 20 points and kicked five from five in the first half.© AAP 2013
Wallabes vs Wales - Scott Allen's match highlights -