Sunday, November 28

Australia navigates to victory over Argentina to maintain unbeaten streak | Rugby championship

Australia mounted a two-shot early flurry to record a comfortable 27-8 victory over Argentina at the Townsville Rugby Championship, winning three consecutive Tests for the first time in four years.

If the game didn’t have the quality of the New Zealand-South Africa clash that preceded it at North Queensland Stadium, the Wallabies will be satisfied with a win to back up two wins over the Springboks.

Winger Reece Hodge and center Samu Kerevi crossed in a brilliant first 20 minutes and winger Andrew Kellaway added a third try for the home team with 10 minutes remaining, after the bench gave new momentum to the attack.

“I think we started very well,” said Australia captain Michael Hooper. “We knew this game could always turn into an arm fight [but I’m] really satisfied with our fight. “

The Pumas scored a single try through captain Julian Montoya from a rolling maul to tie the Australians nine points just after halftime, but are still winless after five rounds of the championship. “We didn’t play a good game, we didn’t complete all of our tackles and we played our half,” Montoya said. “We still have a week and we want to improve.”

Full of confidence after back-to-back victories over the world champions, the Wallabies came off the blocks on a wet afternoon in Australia’s tropical north. Quade Cooper made another assured performance in the high middle and kicked three of three off the tee, but it was the central partnership of Kerevi and Len Ikitau that was at the heart of Australia’s best rugby union.

A charge on the field from Kerevi got the Wallabies into Argentina’s 22nd in the fifth minute and Hodge smashed through three tacklers to land. About 14 minutes later and the pair combined for Australia’s second try, Ikitau picked up the chip and chased Cooper and his centermate used his muscle to force the ball over the line.

Australia was embroiled in dogfights with the Pumas in two draws last season and the next 40 minutes resembled those matches. Emiliano Boffelli and Cooper exchanged penalties and the home side entered the break with a 17-3 lead, but Argentina cut a large part shortly after the restart.

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A period of sustained pressure earned the Pumas a penalty and they kicked for the corner, mauling from the resulting lineout and sweeping Captain Montoya over the line to score. Now it was Argentina’s turn to play with a little confidence, but winger Marcos Kremer received a yellow card for a trip to Hodge to stop the comeback.

James O’Connor, replacing Cooper and playing his first test of the year, extended the lead to 20-8 with an hour penalty and sent an inside pass to send Kellaway over the line and brighten the result.

New Zealand’s previous victory secured them the Rugby Championship title, so the Wallabies will play for second place when they face the Pumas again on the Gold Coast in the final round of the championship next week.

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