Samu Kerevi and Andrew Kellaway starred as the Wallabies won their third consecutive Test in the Rugby Championship for the first time in four years with a dominant 27-8 win over Argentina in Townsville on Saturday.
Kerevi proved a handful for the Pumas and scored one of the Wallabies’ three tries in an attritional niggling encounter which left Argentina win-less after five games in the tournament.
The victory followed on from the Wallabies back-to-back Test successes over the Springboks over the preceding fortnight.
“We’re really pleased,” said coach Dave Rennie of winning three in a row. “It wasn’t with the sort of polish that we wanted and we left a lot of points out there. So a little bit of frustration.
“We went really hard first half and we thought that should have paved the way to run them off their feet in the second half. But they’re tenacious, they hang in there and they scramble really well.”
Kellaway was also prominent, making a couple of line breaks and was rewarded with the Wallabies’ third try off a James O’Connor inside ball to wrap up the contest with 10 minutes left.
Rennie replaced his starting halves Nic White and Quade Cooper with 23 minutes remaining, injecting O’Connor and Tate McDermott into the fray.
They cranked up the energy in the final stages to keep the Wallabies’ attack humming along in a largely stop-start affair with English referee Matthew Carley whistling up 23 penalties.
The Wallabies held their ground with the feared Pumas scrum and were strong in the tight with star prop Taniela Tupou again putting in a long shift before coming off with 13 minutes left.
Kerevi made two line breaks as the Wallabies took early ascendancy.
On the back of Kerevi’s first break, Reece Hodge stepped past Lucio Cinti Kuna and Juan Cruz Mallia to post the opening try in the sixth minute. Quade Cooper added the extras.
Reece Hodge. Back in the side and scoring the Wallabies opener ????
— Stan Sport (@StanSportAU) September 25, 2021
Kerevi then bustled his way over the try-line and referee Carley ruled that he was held up but the TMO reversed the decision when replays showed Kerevi had grounded the ball and with Cooper’s conversion, Australia led 14-0 inside the opening quarter.
The Pumas registered their first points when number eight Rob Valetini was penalised for escorting off the Pumas kick-off and Emiliano Boffelli kicked the penalty.
But the Wallabies held all the cards, dominating territory and possession and scrum-half White narrowly missed scoring the Wallabies’ third try when he dived over from close range but he was ruled to have grounded the ball at the base of the upright.
Blindside flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez was penalised for tackling without the ball and Cooper had an easy penalty kick to stretch Australia’s lead to 17-3 inside the final 10 minutes of the half.
White and Cooper were linking well as the Wallabies smoothly moved the ball out to Kellaway’s wing as the Pumas struggled to stop their momentum. Debutant Rob Leota led with his head into Facundo Gigena’s tackle forcing the Pumas prop to seek a concussion check.
Kerevi again bumped off a couple of tackles in another midfield thrust as the missed tackles mounted for the Pumas, clocking up 17 in the opening half with the Wallabies making six clean breaks.
Overturned ???? Kerevi powers over for the Wallabies second try.
— Stan Sport (@StanSportAU) September 25, 2021
The Wallabies scrum was competitive with the renowned Pumas set piece, while they pinched two of Argentina’s lineout throws and conceded one in the opening half.
The Pumas were more in the contest after the resumption and pulled to within nine points when the scored a pushover try off a lineout with hooker Julian Montoya grounding the ball for the try.
The Pumas went a man down midway through the second half when combative openside flanker Marcos Kremer was yellow carded for tripping Hodg eas the Wallabies began to regain momentum with the introduction of O’Connor and Tate.
O’Connor landed a penalty when Paolo Matera was pinched for hands in the ruck and the Wallabies made it safe with their clinching try in the 70th minute.
It came off the back of 15 phases before O’Connor turned the ball inside for Kellaway to dive over. O’Connor converted and there was no way back for the Pumas at 19 points down.They missed a total of 30 tackles and didn’t make a clean break against the Wallabies defence.
The Pumas upset the Wallabies three years ago on the Gold Coast and last year they pulled off two fighting draws with Australia as well as stunning the All Blacks 25-15 at Parramatta Stadium. .
In the past six meetings, Australia have now won three, Argentina one and the two draws.
Rennie said Marika Koroibete would be leaving the camp before the next Test next weekend to be with his partner and their newborn child. He said there would be some other changes, with Sean McMahon tipped to make his comeback.