Wallabies punish Pumas errors to win 33-21 at Twickenham
LONDON (AP) — Australia pounced on Argentina errors to ground out an underwhelming 33-21 win at Twickenham and finish second in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.
Runner-up was a better-than-expected result for the Wallabies after they started the championship with two hidings from New Zealand, which relieved them of the title a month ago and, hours earlier, humbled South Africa in Durban 57-15.
Argentina gave up home advantage for a bigger box office at Twickenham, but the just over half-full crowd of 48,500 was not much more than Mendoza’s capacity, and the Pumas looked like they missed their inspirational home crowd.
They dominated possession, territory, and passing stats, and forced the Wallabies to make more than twice the number of tackles, but they were the architects of their own demise with knock-ons and poor passes, and gifted all four of Australia’s tries.
A poor clearance by Pumas fullback Joaquin Tuculet straight to right winger Dane Haylett-Petty finished with lock Adam Coleman needing all of his 2.04 meters to plant the ball over the line in the sixth minute. And at the end of the first half, a Pumas misthrow at a lineout launched a Wallabies attack featuring Haylett-Petty on the right, and center Samu Kerevi on the left bumping off one defender and stretching out over another.
Australia played 20 minutes down a man after forwards Michael Hooper and Coleman were sin-binned for high tackles, but despite a man advantage, the Pumas scored only eight points.
They bulldozed a try for lock Matias Alemanno, and flyhalf Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, playing instead of usual goalkicker and playmaker Nicolas Sanchez, who was injured, nailed a penalty to end the half. But he missed his first three goalkicks, which would have put the Pumas on level terms.
The Wallabies finished the penalty-ridden first half 18-8 up, but the scoreline wasn’t as out of reach for the Pumas as it was a year ago in their Rugby World Cup semifinal at Twickenham, and three weeks ago in Perth.
The Pumas rallied in the second half, but each time they threatened to go ahead they blew it.
Five minutes after Pumas center Jeronimo de la Fuente spun over, Kerevi scored his second try thanks to a Pumas hospital pass and jolting tackle by Hooper.
Captain Agustin Creevy knocked on out of a ruck with the tryline at his mercy, but two Gonzalez Iglesias penalties - one of them for Nick Phipps bizarrely pushing over the Pumas physio - lifted the Pumas to within four of Australia with 10 minutes to go.
Two minutes later, Foley’s third penalty extended the gap to seven, then three minutes from the end, Pumas scrumhalf Martin Landajo threw an intercept to flanker Dean Mumm, who trotted over to cap the Wallabies’ first away win of the year.
“We probably played better last week (in an 18-10 loss to South Africa) but that’s how footy goes sometimes,” Australia captain Stephen Moore said.
The Wallabies next step out against New Zealand at Eden Park on Oct. 22 in the Bledisloe Cup, while Argentina tackle Wales in Cardiff on Nov. 12.