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Australia 14-13 Argentina, Rugby Championship
Wallabies buoyed by ugly victory
September 15, 2013
Christian Leali'ifano and the Wallabies did make a number of breaks in Perth © Getty Images
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Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Andy Withers

  • Man of the Match: Michael Hooper once again was outstanding in dominating the breakdown and the loose, effecting pressure on the Pumas and pilfering ball the Wallabies had no right to secure. You simply can't overestimate his effect on the result of a one-point ball game.
  • Key Moment: Israel Folau's try, just as Gunson suggested he wasn't worth a spot in the starting team to fire up ESPNscrum users in our live commentary, gave the Wallabies an 11-3 advantage, which eventually prove would critical.
  • Hero of the Game: Difficult decision, but Ben Mowen deserves great credit as Australia's stand-in skipper - displaying super man-management and leadership in difficult and demanding circumstances. His decision-making was superb - not ignoring simple penalty goals tonight - and James Horwill might just be looking over his shoulder.
  • Villain of the Game: Can we say the weather? It was terrible. This was Perth. In spring. The conditions were so awful that it is churlish in the extreme to single out a player or an official given the lack of obvious errors.
  • Talking Point: Replacements these days seem to get action just for the sake of it, many sent out for just minutes as the clock winds down. Hence it was hugely notable that Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie chose to leave benched skipper Will Genia on the pine for the full 80 minutes.
  • Play of the Game: Israel Folau's try, as noted above, was critical to the shape of the game. The fact it featured good hands in such awful conditions is but a value-add. The Pumas, however, will lament the flimsy defence through which Folau powered.

There's nothing like a good piece of irony: for all the talk of playing pretty, the Wallabies' ability to win ugly against Argentina on Saturday could be the making of the side.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is keen for his team to embrace his expansive game plan, but he also wants them to win ugly when the conditions call for it - something they were able to do against Argentina, despite being dominated in the scrum in the second half. In driving rain and a flukey breeze, Australia hung on grimly in the second half to win The Rugby Championship Test 14-13 in front of 18,214 sodden fans at Patersons Stadium in Perth. The result snapped a four-match losing run and gave McKenzie his first win as national coach. More importantly, the victory boosted the Wallabies heading into their Test against the Springboks at Newlands in Cape Town on September 28 and the rematch with the Pumas in Rosario a week later.

"No one will back us to win those games, but now we've got a bit of confidence," McKenzie said. "Confidence is a dangerous thing, so we can work with it. You need the win to validate what you've been doing.

"It's not exactly how we want to do it, but we couldn't control how the weather was going to be. We haven't abandoned how we want to play. We haven't changed anything philosophically. I think the thing that might be lost is that Australia haven't got a great reputation of winning games in the wet."

Ben Mowen, who captained the side after Will Genia was relegated to the bench, felt the win would play a key role in the side's development.

"I've played in teams where you just get that one win on the board, and then five, six wins later you look back and you think, 'that was just an outstanding effort'," Mowen said. "This potentially could be that effort that propels the side."

Genia, meanwhile, faces a fight to regain his starting spot against the Springboks after Nic White put on a star display against Argentina.

Scott Fardy and Juan Manuel Leguizamon compete for a loose ball in the wet conditions © Getty Images
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Australia finally get off the mark in The Rugby Championship (video available only in Australia)
© AAP
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