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MATCH REPORT: Kellaway hat trick helps Wallabies close Rugby Championship on a high

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2nd October, 2021
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The Wallabies have closed out their Rugby Championship campaign in style, blitzing the Pumas either side of half time to set up an unassailable lead, before holding off a spirited late challenge to prevail 32-17.

It was a hat trick to Andrew Kellaway – who struck in the 33rd, 53rd and 57th minutes – that proved the difference, but there were plenty of Wallabies who did the jersey proud in the last home game of the season.

The win gives the Wallabies four consecutive victories to close out the Rugby Championship – the first time they’ve done so in history.

Coming up an understrength Pumas side by virtue of an ill-fated day trip to Byron Bay locking several key players out of Queensland, the Wallabies didn’t have it all their own way in a dour first half.

Emiliano Boffelli had the first chance for points with a penalty kick, but he missed the kick wide despite taking plenty of time to prepare.

Quade Cooper also had a left-side miss from a penalty kick a few minutes later, but a scrum penalty soon after gave Cooper a second chance that he was never going to waste.

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The scoreboard attendants had little to do in the first half, however, with neither side able to generate much in the way of good scoring chances. Both sides were happy to play a cagey game and kick for territory frequently – and were both frequently plagued by poor kicks and subsequent lineout errors.

But the Wallabies were given a golden chance close to the half-hour mark and they took full advantage.

Pumas lock Thomas Lavanini was shown the yellow card by referee Jaco Peyper after a very early tackle on Izack Rodda while he was lifting in the lineout. He was clearly frustrated with what took place too, slapping the consoling hand of Cooper away as he left the field.

He would’ve been feeling even worse a minute later, with Folau Fainga’a able to break through for the game’s first try on the very next phase.

The icebreaker sparked something in the Wallabies and they looked a lot more threatening with the 8-0 lead at their backs.

They were able to pounce a second time with the man advantage, with Fainga’a sending Rob Valetini through the Argentina line with a great inside pass. He then handed off to set up Kellaway for his first.

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Argentina managed to sustain some pressure on the Wallaby line in first-half stoppage time with multiple penalty advantages, but were eventually forced to settle for three points.

But it was the Wallabies who’d regain the momentum early in the second half. Having been instructed to “put the foot on the throat” by Dan McKellar in the half time break, the Wallabies did just that after a superb dummy from Cooper softened the Pumas defence and allowed Samu Kerevi to continue his fine run of form with a try.

Then, it was time for Kellaway to really turn the screw with a quick double to complete his hat trick.

He did the hard yards for the first, selling a beautiful dummy to part the blue and white sea and cross close to the corner.

The hat trick try came from more great ball use off the lineout, with the real highlight being Len Ikitau’s sublime no-look pass behind the back to set it up.

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Down 32-3, the Pumas could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel – but they continued to fight.

Thomas Gallo came off the bench to get one back for the nominal home side just past the hour mark.

Then, with ten minutes remaining, Gallo was in again – although his second proved controversial after commentators felt he’d been held up over the line.

The reduced lead gave the Wallabies some pause for thought as the match wound down, but they had to poise to clean up their act and keep the margin intact.

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Full time

Argentina – 17
Australia – 32

Tries

Pumas: Gallo 2 (62′, 71′)
Wallabies: Kellaway 3 (33′, 53′, 57′), Fainga’a (26′), Kerevi (42′)

Conversion Goals

Pumas: Boffelli 2/2 (63′, 71′)
Wallabies: Cooper 2/4 (34′, 55′)

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Penalty Goals

Pumas: Boffelli 1/2 (41′)
Wallabies: Cooper 1/2 (9′)

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