May 19, 2013
Australia deny Argentina first win
Wallabies come back from 13 points down
by Frankie Deges
For the Herald
Australia needed tries from Pat McCabe and Digby Ioane in the last quarter to overturn a 13-point deficit and edge Argentina 23-19 in a dramatic Rugby Championship encounter.
GOLD COAST — This might be remembered for quite some time as the one that went away. Argentina squandered a thirteen-point lead going into the final quarter before losing 23-19 in the fourth round of the Rugby Championship.
Los Pumas got a losing bonus point but should have taken four winning points as they arrive back in Buenos Aires this afternoon, exhausted after what was the toughest five weeks in their rugby history. They will take until Thursday off before they start focusing on the last two games against the All Blacks in La Plata and the Wallabies in Rosario.
“It is about time the team wins,” said captain Juan Fernández Lobbe, minutes after the end of the game at the Skilled Park in the Gold Coast. “We let it slip through our fingers and it hurts.”
The captain, who is leading a team that has played against the top three teams in the world away from home and in Mendoza took a 16-16 draw, is adamant that the win will come. “We not only deserve to win, but I know it will come.”
To do that, some of the lessons of Saturday in Australia will have to be learnt. Argentina started strongly and soon, within three minutes, were leading thanks to a Juan Martín Hernández penalty. With their defence as an attacking weapon, they did not allow the Wallabies to give their game any momentum.
A first try seemed to be coming when Gonzalo Camacho ran half the length of the field only to be stopped within metres of the try. He would later injure his hand and will have to wait for an X-ray to determine whether he will continue to play in this tournament. That run earned centre Pat McCabe a yellow card. Hernández missed the penalty and Los Pumas failed to convert into points the one-man advantage.
Australia had their flyhalf Quade Cooper on an off-day and Los Pumas seemed to be rattling them with their tackling. An exchange of penalties between Hernández and Berrick Barnes ended the first half 6-3.
There was a different hunger right after the break. In a two-minute stampede, replacement flanker Tomás Leonardi charged down a Cooper clearance kick and scored in the ninth minute. Hernández, who missed the goal, counterattacked in the 11th minute and found Juan Imhoff (on for Camacho) ran outside scrumhalf Nick Phipps (he did slightly put his foot in touch, unseen by the referee or the touch judge) and when stopped, passed to Julio Farías for another, unconverted, try.
A second penalty by Hernández stretched the lead to 19-6 with 24 minutes to go. Rather than going for the killing, Los Pumas played percentage rugby against a team that has been performing at this higher level for many years; rather than being intimidated, they took the game to the opponents, who soon ran out of gas.
Two converted tries (centre McCabe and winger Ioane) put them in the lead with 12 minutes to go and Kurtley Beale put the final nail in the coffin when he kicked a 45-metre penalty.
“Argentina play with a lot of pride, probably one of the proudest teams in the world,” said home coach Robbie Deans.
His comforting words fell on deaf ears. Team and management were suffering the pain of defeat. Lock Patricio Albacete, who played his 50th cap, concluded: “We want to win. It will come but how many two months ago thought that we could be playing at this level so soon? Wins will come.”
La Plata in two week’s time, against the All Blacks, could be when a win finally comes. Hopefully.