Australia fought back from a half-time deficit to win the AEST Sunday morning rugby championship with a bonus point 41-26 win over Argentina.
The Wallabies trailed 19-10 in the second half, but dashed the Pumas hopes of a recovery to secure their first victory over Australia in four years.
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Australia captain upset on eve of game Michael Hooper stepped back to protect his mental health.
Veteran flanker Hooper returned home from Mendoza after telling his teammates in the opening match of the Rugby Championship that he lacked the “mindset” necessary to play for his country.
Australian prop James Slipper was appointed captain, and Fraser McCrat was promoted to replace open-sided flanker Hooper.
Wallabies manager Dave Rennie said after the game: “I’m really happy with our finish.
“It’s just the beginning, but I’m really happy with the character. There were some changes in the second half, and we lost an important person in the game.
“That’s what this group is about. There’s a lot of character and courage, and they’ve stood up.”
Argentina went undefeated in the rugby championship last season and hadn’t beaten Australia since 2018.
However, they led by less than five minutes, aided by a recent home series win over Scotland.
Santiago Carreras scored the opening try at fly-half in place of talisman Nicolas Sanchez, with Pablo Matera finding a well-judged pass and Emiliano Boffelli kicking an extra.
Quade Cooper cut the deficit almost immediately with penalties before Boffelli fought back with Pumas penalties.
The wingers added another 3 points to give the Pumas a 13-3 lead after just 15 minutes.
However, the Wallabies scored the first try when winger Jordan Petayre scored after the ball moved wide off the maul.
Cooper kicked the conversion to make it 13–10 before Bofferi broke his third penalty of the game.
The Argentine forward continued to dominate, with Boffelli’s deadly accuracy in his spikes resulting in another successful penalty to a 19–10 lead at the interval.
A night of influence Coopers ended prematurely when the fly-half suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Reese Hodge within the first five minutes of the second period.
A short time later, the Wallabies were back in the game when McCrait crossed the line for a 50-minute try at the end of Rolling Mall.
Hodge kicked the 19-17 conversion.
Five minutes later, the Pumas fought back when flanker Juan Martín González overshot into a corner after moving the ball from inside his own half.
Bofferi scored again to take a 26–17 lead. In a spell of dizzying play, the Wallabies were awarded a penalty his try by thinning Argentina’s Roc Matias Alemanno.
With 65 minutes remaining, Hodge fired a long-range penalty to put Australia ahead for the first time, 27–26.
Hooker Folau Fainga’a added to the weary Pumas’ misery by tearing off the back of Maul and scoring, extending the lead to 34-26.
Bofferi failed to boot for the first time on a 50-metre penalty attempt.
Center Len Ikitau scored Australia’s fourth try at the last minute and earned a bonus point.
The two sides will meet again next week in San Juan.
first published as ‘Brave’ wallabies beat pumas in Rugby Championship opener
Rugby News 2022: Wallabies sweep Pumas in Rugby Championship opener
Source link Rugby News 2022: Wallabies sweep Pumas in Rugby Championship opener