Australia opened the defence of their title with a comfortable victory over Argentina in the Telstra Stadium in Sydney in what was a scrappy disappointing game in front of a 81,350 crowd
Australia opened the defence of their title with a comfortable 24-8 victory over Argentina in the Telstra Stadium in Sydney in what was a scrappy disappointing game in front of a crowd of 81,350. With eight minutes to go Argentina were in the hunt for a bonus point after Ignacio Corleto scored their only try, but those hopes were dashed shortly after when Joe Roff showed neat foot work to skate in under the posts.
For the opening quarter Argentina were totally out of sorts. They weren’t helped by Marcel Ledesma’s inability to find his jumpers in the line-out. and were fortunate to be only six points down and even more fortunate to have their full compliment of players as they fringed offside continually.
That situation changed completely in the 22nd minute when Wendell Sailor crashed over on the right – the Pumas again offside but the referee playing advantage – and moments later Argentina were reduced to 14 when Manuel Contepomi was yellow-carded for a tackle on Mat Rogers while he (Rogers) was in the air. It might just as easily been red.
After that the Wallabies went asleep for a period and Felipe Contepomi opened Argentina’s account with a 22 metre penalty. That score was cancelled out by Elton Flatley’s third penalty in injury time of a disappointing first half with the home side taking a 14-3 lead into break.
The start of the second half was delayed for seven minutes when David Giffin was injured – landing heavily after taking the kick-off – and he was replaced by Daniel Vickerman. Argentina continued to have problems out of touch. Roff was denied a try when an earlier pass in the movement was adjudged forward, but the Wallabies went further ahead (17-3) when Flatley kicked a 54th minute penalty.
A poor left-footed clearance from Stephen Larkham gave Argentina possession but from the resultant penalty Contepomi yet again failed to harvest any points, the soon to be Leinster Lion, missing for the fourth time. And when they next won a penalty in almost the same spot, minutes later, they opted to go for the lineout. Yet again that proved a fruitless ploy.
Up to this stage Australia were spending most of their time defending either side of their own 22 occasionally booting their way out of the red zone, their defence more than adequate against the one-dimensional crash bang wallop Puma offence until ten minutes to go when Argentina moved it wide for Corletto to score in the left-hand corner.
Contepomi was once again wide and in the closing moments Roff weaved his magic to give his side a comfortable if unflattering victory.