Pumas upset Wallabies

Australia have slumped to their first home loss to Argentina in 35 years, falling 23-19 in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship Test.

The Wallabies were once again left wanting in key departments as an energetic Los Pumas outfit continued their stunning rise under new coach Mario Ledesma.

Not since 1983, in the first Test meeting between the two nations, has Argentina tasted victory on Australian soil.

But former Wallabies scrum coach Ledesma masterminded a drought-breaking result that will pile enormous pressure back on his old boss Michael Cheika.

A long-range penalty from Emiliano Boffelli with three minutes to go sealed a famous victory for Argentina in front of a poor crowd of just 16,019 at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.

However, Israel Folau bombed a golden chance to win it for the Wallabies after the siren.

Folau had an unmarked Bernard Foley to his right but inexplicably chose not to pass the ball to him and instead coughed up possession as he tried to score himself.

Australia spent most of the second half searching for the points that would have given them the lead after Dane Haylett-Petty’s 54th-minute try reduced the margin to 20-19.

But repeated turnovers and penalties – trademark deficiencies of the Wallabies in recent years – saw them come up with nothing in what proved a miserable night at the office.

It didn’t start that way though – three tries in the space of eight minutes early in the first half set the tone for a frenetic clash.

First, the Wallabies crossed for the opener after some gorgeous openside play from Haylett-Petty and Reece Hodge to set up Will Genia.

Los Pumas responded quickly. Hauled down just short of the tryline, a prone Jeronimo de la Fuente popped up a ball for Nicolas Sanchez to streak through and score.

Four minutes later, Folau found himself in space and made the most of it, burning four Argentine defenders with right steps before planting down in the left corner.

But the Wallabies couldn’t find another try for the remainder of the half despite enjoying good field position, with their malfunctioning lineout handing Argentina a series of reprieves.

The visitors eventually made the most of it, destroying the Australian defence with an energetic 36th-minute counter-attacking burst that finished with Bautista Delguy shrugging off a Haylett-Petty tackle to go under the posts.

Sanchez extended Argentina’s lead to six points with a 48th-minute penalty, and they were never headed from there.

-AAP

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