The Rugby Australia XV was a combination of Wallabies squad members not taking part in Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Brisbane, as well as some Waratahs representatives and club players.
Aside from Naisarani’s standout showing, there were other positives from a match played in three 30-minute blocks.
Halfback Joe Powell looked sharp, while No.10 Will Harrison’s game management was excellent and a lot better than when he featured for Randwick last year against a full-strength Argentina at Coogee Oval.
A full season of Super Rugby has been hugely beneficial for the playmaker, as well as being involved in his first Wallabies squad.
It wouldn’t be the most outlandish idea for Rennie to blood Harrison in one of Australia’s two remaining Tests of 2020 against the South Americans, the first of which is on November 21 in Newcastle.
The Pumas haven’t played a Test since last year’s World Cup when they were bundled out in the pool stages. Their first assignment in the Tri Nations comes against New Zealand next Saturday at Bankwest Stadium.
After a month on Australian shores, they will be pleased with their latest hit-out and the way they scored some entertaining tries. While they aren’t likely to trouble the Kiwis, they could give Australia a scare, particularly with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika in their ranks.
Irae Simone and Fraser McReight made their Test debuts last week in Sydney but were left out of the match-day 23 at Suncorp Stadium.
McReight, in particular, could feel hard done by after a 12-minute cameo off the bench in which he did nothing wrong. He got back on the horse with a solid shift in this fixture. He deserves to line up against Argentina in Australia’s next game in a fortnight.
Australia’s defensive breakdown work was sharp and largely due to McReight, whose knack of getting over the ball and winning penalties is becoming a defining trait for the No.7.
Argentina opened the scoring through Santiago Carreras. The Rugby Australia XV responded to make it 5-5 when Len Ikitau threw a beautiful flick pass to Randwick’s Triston Reilly who scored down the left wing.
Former Brumbies halfback Tomas Cubelli put Argentina back in the lead with a five-pointer and crossed again just before the 30-minute interval when McReight missed a relatively straight-forward tackle in front of the posts.
With his side trailing 19-5, Naisarani took matters into his own hands. Off the back of a scrum, he charged towards Cubelli and wasn’t going to let his smaller opponent prevent him from crossing the paint.
The Rugby Australia XV got themselves within nine points when a crossfield kick from Harrison ended up in Mark Nawaqanitawase’s possession.
Both teams traded tries and when Naisarani bagged his second, the young team of Test hopefuls crept into striking distance.
But Argentina’s experienced heads proved a class above the youngsters called in at short notice.
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Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald