Rugby Championship’s up for grabs after win
AFTER thrashing Argentina 34-9 in Mendoza, a victory against the All Blacks in Sydney next weekend will give Australia its first Rugby Championship trophy and first Bledisloe Cup since 2002.
The Pumas beat Australia at home last year to record their first win in a Rugby Championship match, but were no match for a Wallaby side intent on revenge this time.
A strong effort in the scrum and at the breakdowns, combined with crisp backline movements paved the way for the bonus-point victory, which saw Australia join New Zealand at the top of the table after the defending champions came from behind to down South Africa 27-20 in Johannesburg.
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said he was thrilled with the result after last year's disappointment.
"We're very happy with the win," Moore said.
"It's always hard to come over here and win. Obviously we slipped up last year over here so I'm very proud of the performance."
Argentina has been renowned for its physical and aggressive pack over the years, while plenty of questions have been asked about whether the Wallabies forwards could match it with teams like New Zealand, England and Wales at the coming World Cup.
While Australia's starting props, James Slipper and Greg Holmes, were serviceable, Scott Sio and Sekope Kepu provided plenty of impact when they came off the bench.
"I thought it (the scrum) was a good contest," Moore said. "Argentina has a very strong scrum.
"It was hard work in the first half, but similar to South Africa last week our bench came on and really made a big difference for us."
Coach Michael Cheika has been single-minded about creating plenty of depth in the Australian squad, making seven changes to the starting line-up against Argentina after the 24-20 win against South Africa in Brisbane the previous week.
Of those, Joseph Tomane scored the opening try after replacing Rob Horne (calf) on the wing, Nick Phipps was excellent at half back, Ben McCalman was solid as usual at No.8 and David Pocock was outstanding at flanker.
Pocock's opportunity came at the expense of Michael Hooper, but surely Cheika must bite the bullet and start both men against the All Blacks, even though that would compromise the line-out.
Lock Dean Mumm also did his chances of getting more game time no harm with an excellent second-half try in his first game in green and gold for three years.
Australia 34 (J Tomane, D Mumm, T Kuridrani, A Ashley-Cooper tries; B Foley con, 4 pens) Argentina 9 (N Sanchez 3 pens); in Mendoza.