The Wallabies crashed 48-17 in San Juan this morning against an inspired Argentinian side which beat them in every area of the game.
It was a stark lesson for the Wallabies, especially with their inability to deal with the contestable kicking game executed so well by the Pumas.
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Few stood tall in the Wallabies’ heaviest-ever loss to Argentina in the eToro Rugby Championship.
1 OUTKICKED, OUTPLAYED
The Wallabies were on the backfoot just 60 seconds into the Test when they botched a contestable high kick and conceded a 7-0 start.
Winger Jordan Petaia mopped up the ball but his poor short relay to Tom Wright was a hospital pass in the face of a rush of blue-and-white jerseys. The bobbling loose ball was turned into a Pumas try.
The Wallabies didn’t handle another high kick before half-time. Nic White had offered a shield to anyone prepared to leap for the ball on the full but no one did.
This time the ball bobbled off James O’Connor into Argentine arms. Try and a 26-10 half-time deficit.
There was a definite change of tactics in this kicking area by the Pumas. Backed up by the superior effort they put into getting in the air and chasing the late grubber kicks ahead, it paid off big time.
2 FULLBACK IS STILL AN ISSUE
This flows on from the kicking issue.
You need a fullback who commands the air and the Wallabies didn’t have one in San Juan.
Tom Wright has definite positives but he was found out a deal in this Test.
The Wallabies have to work this out because the South Africans will be pumping plenty of high, contestable kicks in Adelaide in a fortnight.
Another air raid is coming.
You might build a case for Petaia because he is excellent in the air but he’s a novice fullback.
Time for a specialist which means Jock Campbell.
3 ROB VALETINI STANDS TALL
Backrower Rob Valetini was one of the few Wallabies to throw some serious venom back at the Pumas.
His powerhouse charges off several creative lineout variations were rare highlights.
One huge run set up the James Slipper try. I have kept fronting up too.
Winger Marika Koroibete, with another fine try-saving tackle, and center Len Ikitau were two other Wallabies who came out of this disasterous result able to hold their heads high.
4 LACK OF COHESION
The injury toll has eaten away at the combinations the Wallabies had put time into building.
There was still a good enough Wallabies outfit on the field to win the Test but when the momentum of the Argentinians grew, the cracks appeared.
Two Wallabies defenders overtracked in defense off a scrum when they let Pumas center Jeronimo de la Fuente cut back on the angle to score almost untouched in the first half. That was poor.
The Nic White-Noah Lolesio combination in the halves works for the Brumbies because White dominates the playmaking in the partnership.
With James O’Connor beside White, the ball needed to be in O’Connor’s hands more although this was not an ideal game to judge.
5 DEBUTANT HOOKER
Young hooker Billy Pollard would never have imagined this Test debut even a few weeks ago.
We’ve been calling Pollard the hooker Australia has to have at the 2027 Rugby World Cup. He’s fast-tracked that trajectory in a big way.
He hit his first lineout target, made his first pass and got busy in his 15 minutes. It wo n’t be his last outing from him as a Test player.
From a dire Test, he’s a green shoot of promise.