Argentina register their biggest ever win over Australia to go top of Rugby Championship

·19-min read
Emiliano Boffelli runs away from the Australia defence on a memorable night for Argentina  - GETTY IMAGES
Emiliano Boffelli runs away from the Australia defence on a memorable night for Argentina - GETTY IMAGES
  • Argentina race to a 14-0 lead after just six minutes and never look back in San Juan

  • Pumas dominate Wallabies to register record score 

  • Australia captain James Slipper says side fell short of standards

Argentina scored two tries in the first six minutes and went on to dominate as they posted their largest-ever win over the Wallabies to move to the top of  the Rugby Championship.

The Pumas launched a barrage of kicks which Australia struggled to defuse in a first half in which the home side scored four tries to one and in which both teams had a try disallowed.

The Wallabies rallied with a try to captain James Slipper in the 12th minute. But Argentina surged further ahead with tries from Juan Martin Gonzalez Samso and Jeronimo de la Fuente to go into half-time with a deserved 26-10 lead.

Veteran winger Juan Imhoff scored Argentina's first try after only a minute, breaking down the left side, kicking ahead and regathering the ball after a defensive error by Australia fullback Tom Wright and winger Jordan Petaia. It was a taste of things to come.

Argentina kicked the ball 15 times in all in the first match between the teams last weekend which Australia won 41-26. On Saturday the Pumas kicked 13 times in the first half alone and most of those kicks were contestable and won in the air by Argentina. Thomas Gallo scored four minutes later when the Pumas flexed their forward muscles, carrying the ball strongly from a lineout to allow the prop to pick up and crash through the weak shoulder of his opposite Taniela Tupou. Argentina led 14-0 after the conversion in the sixth minute.

Argentina's Agustin Creevy (R) and wing Emiliano Boffelli celebrate the memorable win - AFP
Argentina's Agustin Creevy (R) and wing Emiliano Boffelli celebrate the memorable win - AFP

Slipper's try came from a well-worked lineout move after a penalty when No  8 Rob Valetini dashed around the back of the line and crashed the ball up to the five-metre line. Slipper picked up the ball when it appeared quickly at the base of the ruck and drove over for only his second try in 119 Tests.

O'Connor converted and kicked a penalty to reduce Argentina's lead to four points at 14-10. He then appeared to have scored a go-ahead try for the Wallabies in the 20th minute after an exchange of passes with Petaia. But the score was disallowed when the referee determined Slipper had up-ended Pumas backrower Pablo Matera at the preceding breakdown.

O'Connor took over the Wallabies No 10 jersey on Saturday after a season-ending injury to Quade Cooper and looked solid in a full 80-minute performance.

The chalking off of that try seemed to blunt the Wallabies' rally and Argentina surged further ahead when De la Fuente scored in the 24th minute. The centre took a short, flat pass from scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou near the 22 and dashed through hesitant Wallabies defense. He appeared to pull up with a hamstring strain just short of the goal line: the Wallabies defense stood back and De la Fuente hurled himself over the last couple of meters to score.

Winger Emiliano Boffelli appeared to score soon afterwards, again winning a contest for the ball in the air. But he lost the ball over the goal line after the tackle of Marika Koroibete.

The faces of the Australia players say it all as they come to terms with the huge defeat in San Juan - GETTY IMAGES
The faces of the Australia players say it all as they come to terms with the huge defeat in San Juan - GETTY IMAGES

The second half lacked the fluency of the first but Argentina avoided the loss of form after the break which cost them during last week's defeat.

Gallo scored his second try in the 63rd minute, with Boffelli making up for his first half lapse when he out-paced Koribete in a race for the ball behind the Wallabies goalline.

Replacement centre Tomas Albornoz clinched the win and a record margin with Argentina's seventh try after the full-time siren, running onto a kick from replacement scrum-half Tomas Cubeli.

The Wallabies also managed a second half try through centre Len Ikitau in the 67th minute.

"We're disappointed," Slipper said. "Off the back of a good performance last weekend we really wanted to back it up.

"We dropped our standards today. I thought the Argentinians were really good and got momentum with the crowd behind them. They're a tough team to play catch-up footy against."

Argentina beat Australia - as it happened

10:07 PM

Australia captain James Slipper speaks...

On the defeat...

"We fell short of certain standards. All credit to Argentina, they were tough."

On the upcoming double-header against South Africa at home...

"We're excited about getting home, it's been a tough tour for us and we're looking forward to playing [the Springboks] in front of our own fans."

10:03 PM

That was Argentina's biggest ever win over Australia

That last try summed the Pumas up - they could have just kicked into touch having already secured the win but they wanted another score and kept the ball in hand before the kick ahead and deserved try. Great to watch and well deserved.

10:01 PM

FULL-TIME: Argentina 48-17 Australia

What a win for the Pumas. Thanks to that thrashing of the the Wallabies they are now top of the Rugby Championship. Australia were tactically outplayed and second best all day.

10:00 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!!!! (Albornoz)

Argentina 48-17 Australia

It gets better and better for the Pumas!

WIth the siren already gone the hosts don't kick into touch but go for another try and they get it when they, again, kick over the top and Tomas Albornoz beats the Wallabies defence to touch down for another Argentina try. Boffelli kicks the extras and it's been a great, great win for the Pumas.

09:56 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!! (Boffelli)

Argentina 41-17 Australia

That's it - that's the match definitely all over.

The Pumas turnover the ball in the Australia half before Lucio Cinti kicks ahead and right wing Boffelli touches down. That was brilliant and sums up the attacking verve the hosts have shown tonight.

09:53 PM

75 mins: Argentina 36-17 Australia 

The ball is in the Australia half which suits the Pumas just fine. They knock it on and the Wallabies will have the scrum, they need to get to the other end pronto...

09:48 PM

70 mins: Argentina 36-17 Australia

Lineout for the Wallabies 10 yards from the Pumas' line. They need to score from this...they create maul before spinning it infield, good defence from Argentina means the visitors are going sideways rather than forwards. Then there's a stay pass that goes out on the full and the hosts can breathe easily.

Australia lacked a bit of composure there - had they scored the comeback may, just may,  well have been on.

09:45 PM

TRY FOR AUSTRALIA!!! (Ikitau)     

Argentina 36-17 Australia

Ikitau receives the ball with a wall of Pumas in front of him, 15 yards out, but somehow he wriggles through a half-hearted/poor tackle and then goes over the line unopposed. O'Connor adds the extras. The Wallabies needs to score another try quickly...

That was a very soft try to concede for the Pumas...it's given the visitors a sliver of hope...

09:42 PM

Perfect Pumas

We've seen a lot of them celebrating so far this match...

Argentina rugby - GETTY IMAGES
Argentina rugby - GETTY IMAGES

09:41 PM

65 mins: Argentina 36-10 Australia         

This match is over as a contest, the scoreline in no way flatters the hosts who have been the better side throughout the match, great to see a combative Pumas XV.

09:40 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!!! (Gallo)

Argentina 36-10 Australia

Lineout for Argentina - they create a rolling maul and drive 20 yards plus into the Australia 22. They keep the ball alive knowing they have a penalty advantage, moving it patiently left then right. They are yards from the line then they get the result they're after as Gallo barges over from a yard for his second try. Boffelli adds the extras and the lead is up to 26 points...

09:34 PM

58 mins: Argentina 29-10 Australia       

Australia scrum well and ultimately kick the long long to relieve some of the pressure.

09:33 PM

57 mins: Argentina 29-10 Australia       

The Pumas kick over the top and O'Connor collects in the corner,  but the No 10 is isolated and outnumbered and the hosts turn the ball over. Somehow the Wallabies stay alive in this attack and will have the put in five yards from their own line. Big scrum coming...

09:30 PM

56 mins: Argentina 29-10 Australia     

All the rugby is being playing in Australia's half at the moment. The Pumas are working through the phases and being very patient at the moment.

09:29 PM

PENALTY FOR ARGENTINA!!  (Boffelli)

Argentina 29-10 Australia

Australia give away a penalty eight or so yard inside their own half and it's just what the Puma want and need to extend their lead to 19 points, through the boot of Boffelli.

This is quickly becoming a mountain to climb for the Wallabies.

09:24 PM

50 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia     

So far this half is going the way of the Pumas - there's been no score and that longer that stays the same the harder to win this becomes for Australia.

The Argentina defence is working well  - AP
The Argentina defence is working well - AP

09:23 PM

47 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia   

Australia regain possession and are in the hosts' 22, they pass the ball down the line right but at the last moment the final pass cannot find a pair of Wallabies' hands. They need to make this pressure count...they have a put in just 10 yard from the Argentina line. Can they make this count?

It looks as though the answer will be no as the Puma scum looks to dominate but, somehow, the Australians keep possession until the Argentina defence proves too good  with the visitors failing to get past the gainline. It's the Pumas put in now and the Wallabies will be annoyed with themselves as the hosts kick away any danger.

09:18 PM

44 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia   

Great move off the back of a lineout from Australia as Rob Valetini picks up the ball at pace, charging into the Pumas' 22 before passing to Petaia who goes over the line but cannot ground the ball. Bertranou stripped the ball from the Australia wing and it will be a drop out for the hosts.

09:14 PM

41 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia 

Not the ideal start for the Wallabies to this second half - they give away a penalty and the hosts can kick deep into the visitors' half. From there the Pumas keep the ball alive moving it from right to left BUT then they give a penalty away for 'foul play'.

09:12 PM

40 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia 

The second half is under way at the foot of the Andes.

09:11 PM

The players are back out on the pitch

And the second half is nearly upon us.

One thing to remember is that Argentina have conceded a lot points in the second half recently - something for the Wallabies to grab onto.

09:07 PM

The hosts are well worth their lead at the break

Juan Martin Gonzalez was just one of several Pumas to shine in the first 40 minutes - GETTY IMAGES
Juan Martin Gonzalez was just one of several Pumas to shine in the first 40 minutes - GETTY IMAGES

08:56 PM

HALF-TIME: Argentina 26-10 Australia

The Wallabies lose the ball from the lineout and three points go begging...

What a half of Test rugby - plenty of tries and action. It's a fairly unstructured, disjointed 40 minutes and that's suiting the Pumas nicely at the moment.

08:55 PM

40 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia

Australia are in the Argentina 22 they keep hammering away and induce the penalty. It's the last play of the half do they take the point or kick for the corner? They go for the try...

08:51 PM

36 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia

Emiliano Boffelli storms over the whitewash on the right flank again after the Pumas win the ball in the air. The Australia defence is at sixes and sevens at the moment. BUT it's being checked to see whether the wing dropped the ball over the line. The on-field decision is 'no try' and there is 'no compelling evidence' to overturn that decision, which is harsh considering the ball touched the ground which, for me, is fairly compelling evidence. Anyway, it's not given and the gap remains 16 points....

08:47 PM

35 mins: Argentina 26-10 Australia     

Just when it looked as though the Wallabies had all the momentum and the match was going to go their way two quick tries from the Pumas have given them first-half dominance. I fancy, however, there are plenty more points to come here and you don't have to be Nostradamus to predict that.

08:45 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!!! (Juan Martin Gonzalez)

Argentina 26-10 Australia

Great pressure try from the Pumas sees Juan Martin Gonzalez storm over from just outside the 22 as the visitors (through James O'Connor, I think) lose the ball after a hopeful long Argentina kick. Emiliano Boffelli misses the conversion and the difference is 16 points.

08:42 PM

29 mins: Argentina 21-10 Australia   

Len Ikitau glides through the Argentina defence with poise and elegance, the outside centre gets into the hosts' half but there's an infringement and the Puma can kick away the danger.

08:39 PM

26 mins: Argentina 21-10 Australia   

This is another high-scoring match and, as suspected De la Fuente did pull his hammy and he's off straight after scoring that great try.

08:38 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!!! (Jeronimo De La Fuente)

Argentina 21-10 Australia

Great try from the centre, De La Fuente. He hits the ball at pace just outside the Australia 22 beating two men before seemingly pulling his hamstring, momentarily stopping, before continuing his run and, somehow, going over the line for a fine, determined try.

08:33 PM

21 mins: Argentina 14-10 Australia 

After hardly seeing the ball during the first 10 minutes of the match it's all Australia at the moment. They're in the opposition half and passing the ball with the ease of touch rugby players in the park. As I type O'Connor and Petaia exchange two sumptuous passes before the No 10 goes over the whitewash for a fine try. BUT there was an earlier infringement as Slipper is accused of 'lifting the leg' of an Argentinian...we can't see it and it seems slightly harsh from what I can make out...

08:28 PM

18 mins: Argentina 14-10 Australia 

There will be only two unhappy people with this score after quarter of an hour - both defensive coaches. It's been a scorefest so far and good to watch.

08:27 PM

PENALTY FOR AUSTRALIA!! (O'Connor)

Argentina 14-10 Australia   

The returning O'Connor slots home the three points from in front of the posts.

08:26 PM

16 mins: Argentina 14-7 Australia

Much better from the Australians. They're in the hosts' half keeping the ball alive, popping it left and right. Slipper is at the heart of everything good about the move until the Argentinians are offside and it's a penalty to the visitors.

They decide to take the three points rather than kick for the corner.

08:23 PM

TRY FOR AUSTRALIA!!! (Slipper)

Argentina 14-7 Australia

Lineout for Australia, it goes to the back and off the set piece they move the ball left and James Slipper goes over from close range. The skipper quick with the pick up and go.

The perfect response from the Wallabies is added to as O'Connor kicks the conversion.

08:21 PM

10 mins: Argentina 14-0 Australia

It's all Argentina - they are attacking the Wallabies 22 BUT, much to their relief, the visitors are given a penalty and O'Connor can kick the danger away. That's the first bit of positive news the Aussies have had all game, it's taken 10 minutes to come.

08:18 PM

8 mins: Argentina 14-0 Australia

Coaches always bang on about trying to get out the block fast putting pressure on the oppo from the first whistle but this is something else...

08:18 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!!! (Gallo)

Argentina 14-0 Australia

Great start from the hosts, they're back in the Australian 22, moving the ball and through the phases until they go over again from short range, prop Thomas Gallo the man barging over. This is a brutal, scintillating start from the Puma. It's the easiest of conversions from in front of the posts.

08:14 PM

TRY FOR ARGENTINA!!! (Imhoff)

Argentina 7-0 Australia

An absolute gift of a try for the hosts as Australia give the ball away, after confusion between Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia, in their 22 after a break down the left and kick from Juan Imhoff, Imhoff gathers the loose ball and runs in unopposed. The perfect start for the Pumas as the extras are added.

08:10 PM

1 min: Argentina 0-0 Australia

The match is under way in San Juan where there are over 20,000 in the stands at the foot of the Andes.

08:06 PM

It's time for the national anthems

They are being accompanied by what looks to be a string quartet, bringing with it a school concert vibe to proceedings...

08:03 PM

It's hard to gauge this match

The Wallabies come into it off the back of that 41-26 win last week but you suspect the Pumas will be well up for this one and the tourists are lacking several key men. Argentina could have easily have won last week's match and they will be looking to bring extra physicality to this clash.

07:26 PM

Here are the teams

Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 4 Matias Alemanno, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Pablo Matera,.

Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Facundo Isa, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Lucio Cinti

Australia: 15. Tom Wright, 14. Jordan Petaia, 13. Len Ikitau, 12. Lalakai Foketi, 11. Marika Koroibete, 10. James O’Connor, 9. Nic White; 1. James Slipper (c), 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Rory Arnold 4. Darcy Swain, 6. Jed Holloway, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Rob Valetini.

Replacements: 16. Lachlan Lonergan, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Pone Fa’amausili, 19. Nick Frost, 20. Pete Samu, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Irae Simone, 23. Reece Hodge.

06:49 PM

Weakened Wallabies out to down Argentina again

A relatively inexperienced Australia side will aim to open the Rugby Championship with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2015 when they face Argentina in San Juan on Saturday, with much of the focus on returning fly-half James O’Connor.

The Wallabies have been depleted by injury and absence, with just five of their starting 15 having played more than 30 Tests.

Regular No 10 Quade Cooper ruptured his Achilles' tendon in the 41-26 victory in Mendoza last weekend, team captain Michael Hooper is taking some time away from the game and prop Allan Alaalatoa has returned home following a family bereavement.

Combined with the loss of centres Hunter Paisami and Samu Kerevi, coach Dave Rennie has had to reach deep into the wider squad to plug gaps.

O’Connor is mercurial on his day but can also flounder, which is why Rennie has opted for a 5-3 split on the bench between forwards and backs to add cover for the fly-half in the form of two-cap pivot Irae Simone.

But Rennie is backing O’Connor to shine in his first start this year as he looks to find solutions for a position where there is little depth for the Wallabies.

James O'COnnor - GETTY IMAGES
James O'COnnor - GETTY IMAGES

"Obviously, with Quade gone, no Hoops, no Allan, we’re keen to get a bit of experience out there as well," Rennie said.

"He’s an important voice in amongst that backline. He’s prepared really well, he’s really excited to get out there and have a crack at it.

"It’s James’s first start for a long time, so we decided we wanted more insurance in the backs," Rennie added on the inclusion of Simone among the replacements.

Argentina led 19-10 at half-time last weekend and were largely in control but failed to deal with Australia’s increased intensity in the second period, looking particularly vulnerable to the driving maul.

Pumas coach Michael Cheika has made four changes to his side.

Prop Thomas Gallo is in for Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and Gonzalo Bertranou replaces Tomas Cubelli at scrumhalf as he seeks to reprise the winning combination with Santiago Carreras at half-back from last month’s 2-1 test series win over Scotland.

Matias Moroni replaces Matias Orlando at centre and there is a switch on the wings as Emiliano Boffelli moves to the right in place of Santiago Cordero, allowing Juan Imhoff to play on the left.

"We've said before the most important things are the scrum, maul, lineout, ruck so we can be competitive with all the teams," Cheika said.

"We've got to work on the mentality and technique, mix the two things. We're trying to build defence, the maul, everything together."