Saturday, September 13, 2014

Rugby Championship: Australia v Argentina Highlights

Créditos: Prensa UAR
The fourth round match of the Rugby Championship between the Australian Wallabies and Argentine Pumas went the way of the home side. Australia's 32-27 victory sees Argentina retaining bottom spot in the four team competition. With a crowd of lower than 15,000 on Australia's Gold Coast it was a record low attendance. Australia is, like Argentina,  interested, in bidding to host Rugby World Cup 2023. Australia has hosted two Rugby World Cups previously including being the solo host of the 2003 tournament. By way of comparison Argentina is the only Rugby World Cup Semi Finalists never to have been allocated hosting rughts to a Rugby World Cup. 

The match played earlier today was a missed opportunity for Los Pumas. Although both teams crossed for three tries Australia's first two came from basic errors. Daniel Hourcade was quick to criticize his team. According to el huevo Argentina played its worst match of the tournament. Indeed Argentina's retention rate from previous tests was not seen on the Gold Coast as Australia had 75% possession and 80% territory. 

Argentina's three tries, scored by Manuel Montero, Marcelo Bosch and Joaquín Tuculet, were all of note. Montero's first half effort was a reminder of his quality and also of the questionable selection policy of Pumas wingers throughout the period since, and approaching, Rugby World Cup 2011. As was the case against Ireland in June Montero scored in a manner which is rarely associated with a Pumas winger. His speed and strength saw him get past and brush off three would-be tacklers.  

The converted try gave Argentina a 7-5 lead but Australia went ahead less than ten minutes later through a Bernard Foley penalty and would not be caught. Leading 24-10 in the 54th minute Argentina's chances appeared slim but smart thinking from replacement Tomás Cubelli created an opportunity which was taken in the left corner by Marcelo Bosch. 

Seven minutes later Argentina scored again with Nicolás Sánchez setting up Joaquín Tuculet with a well taken chip-kick. At this point in the game Australia held a four point lead, which became seven with a Foley penalty. Argentina then had a prime opportunity to score firstly through Cubelli with ball in hand and then from an attacking scrum. 

Argentina had an opportunity to draw or push for a win in the final minutes. An attacking scrum near the Wallaby try line had Argentina well positioned and with it going forward a chance of a try was very much strong. Instead Australia was awarded a free-kick with Cubelli being said to have taken too long in feeding the scrum. The Argentine reserve scrumhalf criticized New Zealand referee Glen Jackson saying ''it was completely unnecessary and had not been refereed at all earlier in the match''. 

With Argentina having had a clear try denied last weekend by French referee Pascal Gauzere the manner in which Jackson handled the scrums only adds fuel to the fire to the emerging argument from members of the Argentine media that referees are prone to awarding 50/50 calls against Argentina. In addition to Senatore's lost try All Black Julian Savea escaped any sanction but Puma Tomás Lavanini was suspended for foul play. Both were decisions that could have gone either way but, like the Senatore try, went the way of the higher ranked side. 

The allusive first Rugby Championship win remains a desire. There are still two opportunities this year with Argentina hosting New Zealand in La Plata and Australia in Mendoza. Over the coming days it will become clearer as to who will and will not need replacing based on fitness. Four Pumas picked up injuries on the Gold Coast. Injuries to Juan Manuel Leguizamón's (leg), Juan Martín Hernández's (knee ), Mariano Galarza (shoulder) and Leonardo Senatore (head) will be monitored over the coming days.


  1. Ok, I'm gonna do something I've never really done before, and attempt to be positive about the Pumas in the wake of yet another painful loss (whilst keeping in mind the negative too, lol)...

    First up, let's get the negatives out of the way, because for 60 minutes it was pretty poor stuff from the men in Blue and White... This was without doubt the Pumas's WORST performance of the championship so far. Daniel Hourcade their coach said as much too (see article below)... For 60 minutes, they failed badly to execute the game plan they've been practicing since the top team got together after the June internationals.

    However, there were positives. DESPITE their disappointing performance, they STILL managed to finish within 7 points of the Wallabies. The 12th ranked team in the world got a losing bonus point off a team ranked around 10 places above them (who has also won two world cups and used to make a habit out out beating the All Blacks in the early 2000s). The Pumas showed great fight and courage to get that close, after being so far behind on the scoreboard. If they can finish that close playing as badly as they did for 60 minutes, that has to be promising.

    But I just hope some time soon, they can play WELL for 80 minutes and learn to CLOSE OUT GAMES. I think it's great they're in the championship, but as much as world rugby needs a strong Argentina, I'm not convinced SANZAR has the levels of patience needed to wait much longer for that win to come... I hope the win comes sooner rather than later, the losses are getting tiresome for neutrals and can't be good for the Pumas' morale... An interesting article regarding comments from Justin Marshall on Argentina's future involvement in this tournament. Whether Justin is wrong or right, I think his ideas reflect the general frustration / impatience people have for the Pumas to get a win in this tournament sooner rather than later...

  2. Forgot to mention too... another positive was Manuel Montero's insanely good try!