Wallabies finally win under Ewen McKenzie
September 14, 2013
Israel Folau scored Australia's try
© Getty Images
Australia have finally notched their first win under new coach Ewen McKenzie, defeating Argentina in The Rugby Championship Test in driving rain at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday.
The Wallabies had not won since the second Test against the British & Irish Lions in June, but they appeared to be heading towards an easy win in front of just 18,214 fans when they took a comfortable 14-3 lead into half-time - the first time they have led at the break in seven Tests in 2013.
Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Andy Withers
But a determined effort from Argentina, coupled with poor discipline from the home side, left McKenzie with his heart in his mouth for the entire second half. The Wallabies conceded 12 penalties and failed to score after the break as they were dogged by the turnovers and handling problems that have been evident in six previous Tests this year. McKenzie will be pleased with aspects of his team's win, including the performances of his new skipper Ben Mowen and scrum-half Nic White.
The Pumas drew first blood in the seventh minute with a penalty goal awarded when Wallabies winger Nick Cummins failed to release the ball after attempting a risky run on the opposition try line, but the home side hit back four minutes later with a penalty of their own. The Wallabies grabbed the lead in the 17th minute when Argentina's scrum collapsed under pressure, and Israel Folau then crossed the line after breaking four tackles to register the fourth try of his seven-Test career. Christian Leali'ifano broke through Argentina's defence before quick hands from White and Quade Cooper gifted Folau the chance to convert.
Leali'ifano, who had just one failed goal kick next to his name in his short Test career, had his kicking boots on in the first half, even with the goal posts swaying, and his successes ultimately helped the Wallabies secure the win. But the Brumbies playmaker missed two chances in the second half that would have given the home side valuable breathing space.
The wet weather kept the forwards on both sides busy in the first half and, despite a brief respite during the break, more of the same followed upon resumption. The Pumas came out of the blocks in the second half, forcing the Wallabies to concede numerous penalties through ill-discipline and handling errors.
Argentina's No.8, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, sent a scare through the Australian camp when he crossed the line for his side's try in the 61st minute, which was followed in quick time by a penalty goal from Nicolas Sanchez. But the Wallabies' forwards held their nerve under pressure as rain buffeted the ground in the closing stages, the win ensuring Australia avoided their worst losing streak since 2005 when Eddie Jones was at the helm.
Australia just enjoyed the better of the lineouts. © Getty Images
Australia finally get off the mark in The Rugby Championship (video available only in Australia)
It was another bumper year of rugby action in 2014; join us as we take a look back at some of the season's top statistics
Salary caps, Saints, sinners and scrums - Monday Maul looks back at the key talking points from an eventful weekend
The latest Week in Pictures takes in a fiery East Midlands derby and all the action from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14