Rugby Championship: The Pumas gave their all, but crashed in the second half and lost to Australia

From illusion to being left empty-handed. The Pumas lost 41-26 to Australia in the debut of the 2022 Rugby Championship. At times, the Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza, which housed 33,000 people, was enthusiastic about the performance of Michael Cheika’s team, who was ahead for long stretches. Nevertheless, they ended up declining against the Wallabies, the rival against whom they achieved their first victory in this competition.

The rematch with the oceanic will be played in a week, on Saturday, August 13, at the Bicentennial Stadium in San Juan, where the national cast will act as local. Later, Argentina will play again on August 27 and September 3 with the All Blacks as a visitor in Christchurch and Hamilton and, finally, against South Africa on September 17 at the José Amalfitani stadium in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and a week later in Durban.

After a very long sequence, the Wallabies get the fourth try, with which the game ends. The final score is reviewed by the TMO for a forward pass. In the end, they validate Len Ikirau’s conquest and, after Hodge’s subsequent conversion, the match ends with the score 41-26 in favor of Australia.

With the Pumas defending outnumbered, the Wallabies chain plays in attack and reach the try. They do it from the line and from a large Folau Fainga’a boarding school. Hodge tries the conversion and hits. Australia adds seven more points and takes the lead 34-26.

Reece Hodge hits the mark and the Wallabies go ahead for the first time in the game: they win 27-26.

Julián Montoya, captain of the Pumas, tries to advance and gain meters against the Australian brandMarcelo Aguilar – THE NATION

Again after a line, Australia reaches the try and puts itself two points on the scoreboard: it now loses 26-24. It is the tonic of the party: stick and stick. The meeting, now, enters the definition stage with less than 20 minutes remaining.

The Pumas reach the second try with a barbaric play. Start with a Kremer recovery. Continue with Mallía’s reception. Matera participates and Juan González from Mendoza finishes. It is the best maneuver of the entire match, which makes the fans vibrate in the Malvinas Argentinas. Emiliano Boffelli attempts the most complicated conversion of the afternoon. He is right, as in the whole afternoon and once again the Pumas are up nine points: 26-17.

Following Cooper’s injury, the Wallabies go into touch and get the ball on the line. They then go forward and reach the try, which is checked by the TMO. In the end, the referee validates the conquest of Fraser McReight. Hodge, the new fly, converts. And now Australia loses by two points: 19-17.

In one of the attack phases, the Australian 10 feels an injury to his left ankle and is left lying on the field. Quade Cooper, the Wallabies flyhalf, knows he can’t go on and is writhing in pain. He gets on the stretcher and it’s game over for the Australian playmaker.

Australia presses already from the Argentine exit. The Pumas win by 9. It is the debut of the Rugby Championship at the Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza, which has more than 33,000 people in the stands.

After the tenth penalty awarded by Australia, Emiliano Boffelli points to the posts and hits again. The first half ends with a nine-point lead for the Pumas, who win 19-10.

Argentina takes advantage of everything with Boffelli’s foot. A new penalty puts the score at 16-10 in favor of the Pumas.

Marcos Kremer sees how the Pumas defense works and tackles the Australian ball carrier
Marcos Kremer sees how the Pumas defense works and tackles the Australian ball carrierMarcelo Aguilar – THE NATION

The game is stick and stick. Australia attacks from the line and the Pumas defense never reaches the tackle. Cooper enables Jordan Petaia and the Wallabies wing reaches the Argentine in-goal. Cooper does not fail the conversion and the scoreboard, then, shows the three-point advantage for the Pumas: 13-10.

Argentina presses, is vertical and faces the Australian in-goal. Result? A straight penalty to the sticks. Boffelli does not fail and puts the score 13-3 for the Pumas.

The Argentine 11 does not fail and the Pumas are once again seven points ahead. This is the top scorer of the Cheika cycle: he has scored 35 points.

Scene of the match played by Los Pumas against the Wallabies
Scene of the match played by Los Pumas against the WallabiesMarcelo Aguilar – THE NATION

Quade Cooper hits the posts from an easy position and now the Wallabies are down by four points: Pumas 7 vs. Australia 3.

First opportunity for the Pumas and first try: change of front, Carreras enabled and Pablo Matera makes the first try of the match. Emiliano Boffelli does not fail in the conversion: the Pumas beat Australia 7-0.

Scottish referee Mike Adamson gives the order and Pumas and Wallabies are already playing at the Malvinas Argentinas stadium in Mendoza.

On Saturday morning, the available seats were sold out, so the Malvinas Argentinas stadium looks packed for this match that begins the path of the Pumas and the Wallabies in the Championship. Throughout the week, the Argentine players participated in actions that promoted rugby, in different places of the Cuyo city.

They met 36 times with six wins for Argentina and 27 for the Wallabies. There were three draws. In this tournament, in which the national team has participated since 2012, they met 18 times and the Oceanic team celebrated 14 times. The Argentines won two: in 2014 in Mendoza 21-17 and four years later as a visitor at the Cbus Super in Robina 23-19. There were a couple of ties in 2020, when South Africa did not participate and a Tri Nations was made: 15-15 and 16-16, one in each country.

“We’re already starting to see some of the things we want. We are lucky because there are many games ahead of us”, he pointed out. Michael Cheika, who tried to minimize the fact of facing his country’s team. “Some players adapted quickly, others take longer. We are always trying to improve, while we want to be competitive match by match, mentally, physically and tactically. The objective is very clear for us: we want to put the team in a situation where they can be competitive against all the teams: the powers, those in the middle like us, and those that are developing. Because those are the teams that we are going to face in the World Cup. We have to be prepared to have the game to face all of them.”

Michael Cheika, head coach of the Pumas
Michael Cheika, head coach of the Pumas

This Saturday’s premiere at the Malvinas Argentinas Stadium represents an unbeatable opportunity to enhance the good feelings left by the victory in the series against Scotland last month and continue to consolidate as a team. In that context, Australia appears as the most “earthly” of the adversaries. Also in the process of reconstruction and, beyond the undeniable individual quality of its players, it suffers from some structural flaws that make it permeable.

Without Nicolás Sánchez or Benjamín Urdapilleta, injured again, Cheika insists with Santiago Carreras as driver. This time, with the return of the experienced Tomás Cubelli as a media partner. On the bench appear Lautaro Bazán Vélez (1 cap) and the possible debutant Tomás Albornoz as a replacement. The formation: Juan Cruz Mallía; Santiago Cordero, Matías Orlando, Jerónimo de la Fuente and Emiliano Boffelli; Santiago Carreras and Tomas Cubelli; Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera and Juan Martín González; Tomás Lavanini and Matías Alemanno; Francisco Gómez Kodela, Julián Montoya (c) and Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

It was in this city where the Cougars they last won at home for the Rugby Championshipit was here where they achieved the first victory in their history in the contest. Four years have passed since the 32-19 victory against South Africa in Mendoza, the last achieved by the Rugby Championship at home, which marked the highest point of performance of the national team after fourth place in the World Cup in England. Four years earlier, here too, a 17-match winless streak had been snapped with a 21-17 success against Australia, the first in the tournament’s history.

The news surprised on Friday night: the Wallabies reported that Michael Hooper, their captain, was returning back to Australia, so he will not be in today’s game or next Saturday’s in San Juan. “I’m not mentally fit,” said the player himself. A very sensitive loss, which has an emotional impact on the visiting team and, of course, on the game. The Lineup: Tom Wright; Jordan Petaia, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, and Marika Koroibete; Quade Cooper and Nic White; Fraser McReight, Rob Valentini, and Jed Holloway; Matt Philip and Darcy Swain; Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a and James Slipper (c).

The Malvinas Argentinas stadium, in Mendoza, is the epicenter of the starting signal. There, the Pumas begin their journey in the Rugby Championship 2022. And he does it against the Wallabies, the rival against whom they got their first win in this competition. From now on, the coverage of THE NATION Argentina-Australia, an exciting duel that will begin at 4:10 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

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