Frustrating times for fortunate Wallabies
Posted on 04/25/19 1:47 PM
Worsening hooker and wing crises are only the start of the Wallabies’ frustrations as they continue to make life hard for themselves.
Butchered tries, two turnover five-pointers to Argentina and a late-game lapse all combined to undo a lot of good work before scraping home with a 32-25 win on Saturday night.
Up 29-13 with 20 minutes left, Australia were lucky to avoid a draw as the Pumas defied their traditional fade-outs to pounce at Cbus Super Stadium.
Even though their coach, Daniel Hourcade, rated it Argentina’s worst display of the Rugby Championship they wasted two gilt-edged chances in the last three minutes.
Sniping flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez broke into the Wallabies quarter but ignored unmarked winger Juan Imhoff who could have crossed near the posts.
Then, set for their third straight 5m scrum in the dying moments, referee Glen Jackson harshly penalised halfback Tomas Cubelli for an early feed to let the Wallabies off the hook.
It was a cruel end for the world’s No.12-ranked team that are still searching for their first win after 16 Tests in the tournament.
But, as coach Ewen McKenzie lamented, the Pumas should never have had a sniff after the Wallabies dominated the first hour of the match – enjoying 80 per cent possession.
“It is frustrating because we should have done better in the first half in terms of nailing the opportunities that came along,” McKenzie said.
The worst was five-eighth Bernard Foley’s decision not to draw Argentine fullback Joaquin Tuculet close to the line in the and put Rob Horne over.
“Definitely, we butchered that,” Foley said. “The game is a different story if we go two tries up there in the first half.
“I think I owe (Horne) a couple of beers and he will taunt me about that for a while.
“That’s where we were bad tonight, letting them off the hook.”
Named man of the match, Foley admitted the Wallabies “lapsed” late and should have gone on with the job for a four-try bonus point win.
Australia (10) barely remain alive in the tournament but must rely on the unlikely event of New Zealand (16) losing both their remaining matches on the road in Argentina and South Africa.
For the Wallabies, who have a 9-1-1 record from their last 11 Tests, a win over the Springboks in Cape Town in a fortnight would stand as their most meritorious victory under McKenzie.
Australia will take a 28-man squad overseas without luckless hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, who may require ankle surgery, and try-scoring flyer Peter Betham (foot), while lock Sam Carter is in doubt after reaggravating his own ankle problem.
While fourth-string rake James Hanson will start in Cape Town, McKenzie does have Adam Ashley-Cooper back from a neck problem as Betham joins the long list of unavailable wingers.
For all the frustration of the victory, the efforts of the Wallabies starting pack – including four forwards laid low by a gastro bug last week – was commendable, as well as the sharp display of halfback Nick Phipps.