22 mins: The first scrum of the night ends with a penalty against Australian skipper James Slipper and Argentina kick themselves back into attacking territory.
From under the posts, the penalty is unmissable. Territory is 80-20 in Argentina’s favour, the scoreboard still playing catch-up.
18 mins: Another long spell of possession from the Pumas but a knock-on stalls their momentum. Not for long though with a immediate turnover sending the visitors back on the front foot. The Wallabies do well to slow things down on the 20m line but Argentina are dedicated to the one-out jinking run from the ruck. By phase 10 there’s a penalty advantage at the breakdown, the dinky chip goes over the top and the whistle blows.
16 mins: Argentina have a nice long multiphase attack from 30m out. Again it’s most dangerous heading to the left, but this time they keep the ball alive and recycle to the right. Play remains full of impetus as the phases reach double figures in the shadow of the posts, quick ball offering options right and left, but the Pumas pull the trigger perhaps a fraction early – Carreras again looking for the rugby league style grubber – but Koroibete is alive to it and concedes the drop out.
Meanwhile, Ikitau leaves the field clutching his right shoulder. He has looked in pain since the collision he incurred when touching down for the opening try.
14 mins: The Wallabies remain 100% at the lineout tonight and Cooper clears his lines.
I confess in real time I thought it was ok, mainly because of the advancing Argentina line muddling the sense of perspective. However, happy to be corrected.
13 mins: White fails to hit touch with his clearing kick, but the Pumas are unable to regather their Garryowen counterattack and play returns to a standstill on halfway. After the ball hit the Spidercam cables with a bomb to the corner – that went unnoticed by the officials – the Pumas kick to the right corner into touch.
Cooper with his second solid strike of the night as the Wallabies hit double figures.
11 mins: Another lineout win for the Wallabies with Skelton in the air for an age at the back of the line. Nawaqanitawase takes over, hustling and bustling in midfield, spinning in and out of tackles and earning a penalty for a high scrag. That invites Cooper to extend the lead from 40m out dead in front.
10 mins: The throw is secured but the Pumas are back in possession soon afterwards after White’s box kick is charged down. Argentina can’t capitalise with an attacker off his feet at the ruck.
9 mins: Argentina take possession for the second time tonight, and again they look dangerous, making yards up front and looking for quick ball off the back and to the left wing. As with their opening sortie, a low kick doesn’t pay off and Australia have the first lineout throw of the night.
Australia try to work through the phases on halfway but there is no go-forward at all and the penalty advantage for offside comes as merciful relief. The penalty is tapped quickly by White and the Wallabies dart to the 20m line at speed. From there, it’s worked quickly to the left through a superb long pass by Cooper to Koroibete. The big winger basketball palms the pass back inside to Ikitau who barrels towards the corner, withstands a stinger of a tackle in mid-air and just grounds the ball on the line. Excellent set-play try!
Cooper slots over an impressive conversion from the left touchline.
3 mins: Following the ball going dead, play is called back for an Australian infringement and the Pumas have a simple looking shot for goal, but Boffelli hits the left-hand upright and the ball bounces back into play! The Wallabies under the pump on their own line, but they hold firm until Peyper’s whistle blows for a clear offside against Lavanini.
2 mins: Australia secure the kick-off and Cooper belts the Wallabies to halfway. Argentina keep the ball in hand and in a couple of phases make a linebreak in the left centres, Len Ikitau burned badly. Up to the 20m line and the phases build but Santi Carreras spots a gap and dabs a kick through that is agonisingly out of reach of Mateo Carreras, with Wright shielding the space well.
We’re under way in Parramatta.
Along with the fashion stakes, the anthems give Argentina another moral victory. The preamble alone makes me want to gaffer tape my ears and run into battle.
Out come the Pumas onto the Commbank Stadium turf, somewhat to the surprise of the crowd who muster only a few half-hearted boos. Much more enthusiasm when then the home favourites jog out. The 7.45pm kick-off time is already a distant memory.
Before the teams enter the arena, here’s the write-up from New Zealand’s day out against South Africa earlier on.
The Wallabies are going through the final hugs and back-slaps in their change room ready for battle. Australia are in their rich egg yolk gold jersey, green shorts and gold socks. The Pumas outdo them in the fashion stakes with one of the finest outfits in international sport. Hoops of cornflower blue and white adorn the collard jerseys and long socks, with white shorts tying it all together, man.
I always enjoy when professional sport gets in the way of the main event.
It’s been unseasonably warm in Sydney recently meaning temperatures will still be in the high teens at kick-off. A slight northerly breeze may be a factor in the kicking game.
The referee tonight is South African Jaco Peyper. His assistants are Kiwis Paul Williams and James Doleman. TMO is Marius Jonker from South Africa.
The Pumas have provided stern opposition for the Wallabies in recent years, and there’s a reasonable chance this match-up could be a World Cup quarter-final later this year if Australia win Pool C and Argentina finish runners-up behind England in Pool D.
2022 Argentina 48-17 Australia
2022 Argentina 26-41 Australia
2021 Australia 32-17 Argentina
2021 Australia 27-8 Argentina
2020 Australia 16-16 Argentina
2020 Australia 15-15 Argentina
Here’s the coin toss, if you’re into that sort of thing.
What I definitely am into is Julian Montoya’s sweet Air Max 1 sneakers.
Michael Cheika has handed a debut to winger and former sevens international, Rodrigo Isgro, doubling the number of bronze medalists from the Tokyo 2020 Games in his back line. Francisco Gómez Kodela also comes into the starting side.
Pumas: 15. Emiliano Boffelli, 14. Rodrigo Isgro, 13. Lucio Cinti, 12. Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11. Mateo Carreras, 10. Santiago Carreras, 9. Gonzalo Bertranou, 8. Juan Martin Gonzalez, 7. Santiago Grondona, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 4. Matias Alemanno, 3. Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2. Julian Montoya (c), 1. Thomas Gallo.
Reserves: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Hahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18. Eduardo Bello, 19. Lucas Paulos, 20. Rodrigo Bruni, 21. Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22. Nicolas Sanchez, 23. Matias Moroni.
Eddie Jones has tinkered with his line-up after last week’s mauling in South Africa. In the pack, Fraser McReight replaces Michael Hooper (calf strain), Jed Holloway deputises for Tom Hooper (shoulder) and Richie Arnold comes in for Nick Frost. In the backs, Suliasi Vunivalu has made way for Mark Nawaqanitawase and Samu Kerevi comes into the centres in place of Reece Hodge.
“We’re running a marathon this year and we didn’t get off the start line like we wanted to, but we get another opportunity to find our rhythm this weekend against a tough Argentinian side,” Jones said on Thursday. “It’s about winning but there’s a couple of processes we’ve got. We’ve got the process of today, we’ve got the process of tomorrow. So that’s a continual balancing act but obviously Saturday’s the priority.”
Wallabies: 1 James Slipper (c), 2 David Porecki, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 4 Richie Arnold, 5 Will Skelton, 6 Jed Holloway, 7 Fraser McReight, 8 Rob Valetini, 9 Nic White, 10 Quade Cooper, 11 Marika Koroibete, 12, Samu Kerevi, 13, Len Ikitau, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 15 Tom Wright.
Reserves: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Josh Kemeny, 22 Tate McDermott, 23 Carter Gordon.
To provide a little more context to last week’s results and tonight’s clash, the All Blacks have just run out comprehensive winners at home to the Springboks. New Zealand streaked into a 20-3 half-time lead, playing some scintillating ruby, but South Africa fought hard in the second half.
Angus Fontaine wasn’t overly impressed with the return of the prodigal Eddie in Pretoria.
After all the hoopla about Jones returning as the saviour of Australian rugby, his Wallabies barely fired a shot in their 43-12 walloping by South Africa in Pretoria. Despite scoring the Test’s first try with fast hands to Marika Koroibete, they imploded to leak 43 unanswered points, falling to their heaviest defeat against South Africa in 15 years and getting the much-vaunted Eddie Era: Part 2 off to the worst possible start. That this defeat came against a second-string Springboks side, with the first XV dispatched to New Zealand to counter the All Blacks, only salted the wound.
Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of Australia v Argentina in round two of The Rugby Championship. Kick-off at Sydney’s Commbank Stadium is 7.45pm.
It might be early days in the international season, but this already has the feel of a must-win clash for both sides. The Wallabies were hammered in South Africa last time out, while the Pumas were thumped on home turf by the All Blacks. With the World Cup just around the corner, now is not the time to be playing catch-up.
It’s anyone’s guess where Australian rugby is at the moment, with changes in the boardroom and a Hail Mary sent Eddie Jones’s way after he was sacked by England. It’s a familiar pattern for a sport that long ago lost its foothold as Australia’s team and seems unsure how to win back the armchair fans.
Jones’s first XV was hardly a massive departure from the Dave Rennie era, suggesting selection alone has not been behind Australia’s inability to win a TRC since 2015. However, the positives to take away from Pretoria came off the bench with Carter Gordon’s try-scoring debut hinting at a bright future for the young playmaker. Otherwise it was a familiar tale with ill-discipline yet again costing the Wallabies dearly.
I’ll be back with teams news and insights from the two camps shortly. If you want to get in touch at any point you can always send me an email.