Bret Harris has wasted no time filing his match report, which is my cue to call it a night.
Thanks for your company, let’s do this again next week.
“Disappointed. With the possession and field position we had, we should have been more accurate,” bemoans Michael Hooper. “Really pleased with some aspects of the game but disappointed with some penalties in the back end.”
That was not a classic. Argentina never established any rhythm. Australia got their tactics wrong in the first half and failed to convert their massive dominance of territory and possession. Both kickers excelled and the boots of Hodge and Sanchez excelled equally.
The Pumas will be happier with the draw.
Five penalties apiece and the Pumas and Wallabies could not be separated.
80+2 mins: Australia haven’t given up just yet and continue to mount attacks on halfway, trying to induce an error in the Puma defence. But the opposite happens and Argentina break, before the ball is touched dead.
80 mins: Again both sides go to the air and Boffelli does superbly to retain composure under the high ball. But the ball eventually ends in Australia’s hands with time and space to run. This could be dangerous. The Wallabies almost break through the middle, then they have room on the right – go through hands! But they kick! And Argentina claim and concede the drop-out.
79 mins: A long drop-out is matched by an Australian bomb before the Pumas secure slow controlled possession. They invite another kicking exchange that ends with a Hodge up-and-under being marked inside the 22.
78 mins: From 40m out, 10m inside the left touchline, Reece Hodge MISSES his first penalty of the night!
77 mins: Scrum for Australia just inside Argentina’s half but the set-play off the back is not executed and the move breaks down. The Wallabies regather though and continue to keep the ball in motion, earning a penalty advantage for a Puma illegally playing at the ball in the ruck. Hodge has a golden opportunity to retake the lead.
75 mins: Daugunu tries to run out of defence but he’s smashed back in contact that felt like a vehicle collision. Australia accept the need to kick, and they do just that with a box kick down the line that comes with a superb chase and counter-ruck that secures the turnover.
74 mins: The Pumas push into Australia’s half along the right flank, waiting for the moment to head inside and pull the trigger. They do, and Sanchez launches a bomb, but the chasing flyer knocks on contesting for the mark and the Wallabies clear to halfway.
72 mins: Australia are rattled and now Hodge has lost the ball in contact on halfway. Argentina have stepped up the intensity and the Wallabies are struggling to hang on.
Wow! Sanchez strokes over another 45m penalty into the wind to bring his side level!
70 mins: Argentina have slow ball on halfway with a host of bodies committed to the breakdown. The box kick is the only option, but instead of running it back Hodge belts a clearance miles. The Pumas return fire but it goes into touch and the Wallabies throw a quick lineout and set up a long slow attacking drive through multiple phases. Gordon then launches a garryowen that Argentina spill, but the referee’s arm points in the Pumas’ favour for offside!
From 45m, into the wind, Sanchez makes no mistake. The gap down to just three in Newcastle.
67 mins: Argentina continue to kick from inside their own half, inviting Australia to run at them, and it works on this occasion with substitute Daugunu wrapped up just inside his own half and conceding a penalty.
66 mins: After being treated to a series of fast, flowing, open games in recent weeks, this one has been a bit more of a grind, and with subs coming on and off and plenty of set-pieces, the scruffiness is not disappearing soon. That is compounded when Australia shift lineout possession from right wing to left only for Petaia to fail to hold onto the pass and cough up a turnover.
Sanchez is back in the groove, kicking Argentina back within a converted try.
63 mins: Another Australian scrum, another Argentina penalty, much to tbe bemusement of the men in gold. The call goes against Sio, and now Sanchez has a shot for goal 35m out slightly to the right of the posts.
62 mins: Argentina secure the lineout but the resulting maul and ruck are messy. The clearout comes eventually and Sanchez sends up a huge bomb that Banks cannot claim. Argentina press forward and kick in behind the Wallabies defence but there are bodies back quickly and after slowing play down on the line the kick clear eventuates. Argentina try to counter at speed and find runners hitting the line, pushing the defence backwards. You can sense a break coming – until Orlando spills attempting an ambitious inside ball against his stride.
60 mins: Australia have the scrum feed but the front row collapses and Argentina are awarded the penalty. The kick to the corner gives the Pumas their best attacking platform of the night.
59 mins: Australia drive 15m after the restart but White is then happy to slow the play down and box kick with the wind. It works perfectly with the wind and rain causing havoc and the ball coming back the Wallabies’ way. The game is starting to stretch a fraction and there are gaps on halfway for Australia to exploit but Hodge drops a Philip offload and the move breaks down.
With the rain teeming down Hodge continues his 100% record with the boot.
56 mins: Hodge and Carreras exchange long kicks, a series that works in Australia’s favour with the wind at their backs and the Wallabies get a lineout on halfway. Off the back of that Hodge launches a wicked up-and-under that swirls and bounces dangerously and Argentina fail to handle it. The chasing pack are on to the scene in a flash and they quickly earn a turnover penalty.
54 mins: Argentina kick to Australia’s 22 but after setting up a drive through the middle Orlando loses the ball in contact with Simmons and the move breaks down. The Pumas have not clicked in attack.
52 mins: We’re in scrum set and reset purgatory again, just inside Australia’s half on Argentina’s right wing. The Pumas secure their own feed but then butcher a set play on the blindside before coughing the ball up two passes later heading back inboard. The hotheads from both teams come together again for a little argy-bargy and, like the game in general, it’s all a bit piecemeal and unsatisfying.
The outcome is a penalty for Australia reversed in Argentina’s favour.
In other news, it’s raining. That was not forecast.
50 mins: The two fullbacks have collided in heavy contact on halfway competing for a high ball, but both bounce back up as Australia run. They can’t make ground through the middle though and when they head left the line rushes up at speed and Koroibete is nailed before he can do anything with it.
48 mins: And Sanchez misses! He is human after all, dragging his penalty across the face from 35m out just in from the right touchline.
47 mins: Argentina have offered practically nothing in attack so far but they link a series of phases on the right wing that stem from a Matera charge-down on Australia’s 22. The Wallabies slow the ball down and eventually concede a penalty for their efforts.
Hodge, from point blank range, with the wind behind him, smashes the penalty over the bar and into Queensland.
Argentina don’t clear far and the Wallabies secure lineout ball on the 22. That sets up a series of firm runs at the line in midfield before everything gets tight in close. Argentina respond by slowing the play down and eventually concede a penalty at the breakdown. And the outcome – as promised by the referee just before half-time – produces a yellow card for Montoya.
42 mins: We’re back underway in Newcastle, and guess what? Australia have ball and territory but Argentina pilfer a crucial lineout when it matters. Plus ca change.
Such is their territorial dominance so far it may not come back to haunt the Wallabies, but I agree, a more conservative strategy in that opening half could have seen Australia 12-15 points up through penalties alone.
Australia dominant on-field and that late penalty edges their noses ahead on the scoreboard.
And after all that effort kicking to the corner, Michael Hooper finally accepts a kick for goal that Reece Hodge slots over with the minimum of fuss.
40+3 mins: Lineout secured again and the troops gather in the right corner. The ball comes out and Hodge shifts play a pass left then immediately back to the right where there’s almost a hole for Petaia. The Wallabies are camped on Argentina’s line with players buzzing around the contest. And the whistle goes again for a Puma infringement. “This is now an offical warning” says the referee to Matera. Argentina are lucky not to have received a yellow card in the past ten or so minutes.
40+1 mins: Australia secure the attacking lineout and repel a fierce Argentina drive. Somehow the ball comes out to White who sends play from right to left. It goes swiftly through hands until there’s an overlap for Koroibete to run into the corner. But the TMO takes little time identifying a massive forward pass against Banks in the build up. But still, play comes back for an earlier penalty and Australia kick for the corner for the umpteenth time.
40 mins: The Wallabies have repeat phases on Argentina’s 22 but it’s slow ball that goes nowhere. Australia are reprieved by a Puma knock-on in the ruck and after the whistle is blown there’s a set-to with Tupou to the fore, striking out at Sanchez’s buttock before the No.10 retaliates. It’s all very juvenile. There are penalties handed out against both sides, the order and subsequent reversal ends with an Australia penalty. They go to the corner again with half-time drawing near.
38 mins: Argentina run the ball off the back of a lineout just inside Australia’s half but after a couple of handy flat passes Hooper nails Petti in the tackle, dislodging the ball and Australia counter.
Hodge somehow adds the three points with a big booming sliced drive that set off way outside the left-hand upright but arced back over the bar.
35 mins: Slow ball for Argentina on their 22 so yet again they kick to halfway, and yet again the Wallabies run it back. Sio makes good ground, then Banks, White nimbly securing quick ball at the breakdown. The ball is magnetically drawn from the left centre to the right wing, but the momentum is sucked out of the move and play is eventually called back for an earlier penalty. After all their earlier kicks to the corner, Australia are finally going to kick for goal.
I said 40m, it was nearer 30 – which equates to a gimme for the flawless Sanchez. Argentina have been nowhere tonight and somehow they lead by three points.
31 mins: Copy and paste! Argentina kick just over halfway but their attacking lineout is stolen and Australia run it back. This time there’s a turnover in broken field and the Pumas counterattack at pace for the first time tonight through Delguy. They gain a penalty advantage 40m out against Tupou for offside so Sanchez tries to chip and chase but to no avail and play comes back for the three point attempt.
30 mins: The Wallabies pinch the lineout on halfway and get back into their groove of White feeding runners to hit the Argentina wall and chip away, collecting short gains repeatedly. The conservative strategy turns into an expansive one when play is shifted right but there’s three forwards in the line where a trio of outside backs should be and the ball hits one of them in the face and goes to ground.
27 mins: Australia continue their running game and for the umpteenth time they go through the phases, cross halfway, and concede a breakdown penalty just as momentum was building. Petaia was the decisive runner, Hooper the culprit at the ruck.