Wallabies labour past Pumas
October 6, 2012
Argentina's Martin Landajo is tackled by Australia's Scott Higginbotham
© Getty Images
Australia claimed the runners-up spot in this year's Rugby Championship with a hard-fought 25-19 victory over Argentina in Rosario.
The Wallabies bounced back from their mauling at the hands of South Africa last weekend thanks largely to a 20-point haul from fullback Mike Harris with a second half try from winger Digby Ioane a rare highlight in a game dominated by the boot.
Pumas fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez kept his side in the contest with three first half penalties but a late try from replacement Juan Imhoff was not enough to propel the hosts to an historic first win in the competition.
The injury-plagued Wallabies registered the first points in the third minute through Harris and he added a second soon after but their early endeavour came at a cost with lock Kane Douglas forced out of the game after failing a concussion assessment.
The Pumas were not the only ones to feel the wrath of referee Craig Joubert in an opening period dominated by the whistle. Hernandez was able to put his side on the board in the 11th minute only for Harris to restore his side's six-point advantage. The tit-for-tat exchange continued on the quarter hour with Hernandez' second penalty that was cancelled out by Harris midway through the half.
The Pumas' hopes took a blow when lock Patricio Albacete was sin-binned and Harris capitalised by notching his latest penalty but they failed to trouble the scoreboard again in his absence.
Hernandez would have the final say in the half with his third successful kick but there was still time for Wallabies fly-half Kurtley Beale to miss with a long range effort and his Pumas counterpart to also fire wide with two penalty attempts.
The opening try nearly came in the 51st minute when Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper broke the line and ran 85-meters only to be pulled down just short of the line. The visitors had another chance to extend lead just short of the hour mark but Harris couldn't continue his fine run of form with the boot.
The missed opportunity allowed the Pumas to reduce the deficit to just three points in the 63rd minute when Pumas inside centre Marcelo Bosch, slotted his first penalty goal attempt.
Two minutes later the Wallabies won a scrum 25m out from the Pumas' line in centre field and took full advantage with a set piece play sending Ioane in for his second try of the competition that was converted by Harris.
The Australians went further ahead in the 74th minute after Harris kicked truly again for his sixth penalty goal of the game. Boosted by a passionate and vocal crowd, the Pumas weren't to be denied and when Brett Sheehan was shown a yellow card in the closing moments, the home side took full advantage and crossed for their first try of the match through Imhoff.
Bosch's successful conversion brought the Pumas back to within six points but their hopes of a dramatic late turnaround were dashed by a resolute Wallabies defence who held on for a morale-boosting win.
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