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Amazing Australia fightback stuns Argentina

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Australia put on a sublime display, beating Argentina 34-45 at Ernesto Maltearena Stadium, Salta.

Australia fought back from a 24-point halftime deficit in a game of two halves, outscoring Los Pumas 38 to three after the break.

It is the men from down under’s biggest comeback in the Rugby Championship, falling one-point short of South Africa’s famous 24-23 win over New Zealand in the 1998 Tri-Nations title decider in Durban.

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty grabbed a brace to go with scores from Izack Rodda, Israel Folau and David Pocock.

A scintillating second half gave the visitors the most unlikely wins, thus avoiding the tournament’s wooden spoon and possibly saving coach Michael Cheika’s job.

Argentina crumbled under the weight of Australia’s intensity and pressure conceding three converted tries inside 13 minutes from the restart, and they never halted the green and gold tide.

The Wallabies ran in five unanswered tries in the second half to notch one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the sport.

The Aussies looked dead and buried after Pablo Matera, Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Orlando and Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias gave the home team a 31-7 lead, cancelling out Michael Hooper’s 14th-minute try.

It was as an unlikely comeback as has ever been seen in Test-match rugby, never mind between Tier One nations.

There were shades of Springboks versus the All Blacks in Pretoria as the Wallabies overturned a huge deficit and run out winners in South America.

A game of two halves.

Mario Ledesma will be wondering what he did wrong during his halftime speech.

Conversely, whatever Cheika said to his chargers, will resound in Australian rugby folklore for years to come.

The Wallabies looked dead and buried, delivering one of the most abject displays in their illustrious history.

This was a result that saved peoples’ livelihoods. After going behind 14-nil inside the opening five minutes.

Matera and the effervescent Boffelli ghosted through a non-existent Wallaby defence to notch a two-goal lead.

Australia halved the deficit through Hooper and the metronomic Bernard Foley inside the quarter-hour mark.

But the hosts replied with two more converted tries from Orlando and Gonzalez Iglesias, who replaced the majestic Nicolas Sanchez.

Sanchez had been outstanding, involved in everything good that the Pumas produced, kicking all four conversions as his team took control.

Gonzalez Iglesias added extended his side’s lead with a penalty before the break.

This is why coaches get the big bucks.

Australia looked shell-shocked, that’s because they were. They slipped off tackles and could not get any ascendancy in the set-pieces.

Cheika, like all the great coaches, acted instead of reacting. The grizzled leader substituted his entire front row, more in hope than anything else.

He had to do something, anything to stem the blue and white-hooped tide that had engulfed his beleaguered side.

Within minutes of the restart, his side had laid down a marker, saying “we will not be moved.”

Rodda, Haylett-Petty and Folau all crossed inside six minutes of madness that conjured scenes of Istanbul and the famous Liverpool comeback against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final.

This was every bit as electric and unlikely.

The three scores silenced a partisan crowd in Salta, one which had been joyous only 13 minutes prior.

Now there was panic; it spread like wildfire through the hosts as they wilted under the pressure of their opponents.

Like wild horses collapsing in a heap in the Grand National when the leader inexplicably falls, the Argentinians crumbled.

Gonzalez Iglesias halted the bloodbath, extending his side’s lead to six in the 61st minute, but it was not enough: it was too late, the horse had bolted.

Australia ramped up the tempo. Pocock crossed before Haylett-Petty sealed the deal with his second 13 minutes from time.

There was time for Foley to chew up some time on the clock, kicking a penalty before the end.

Argentina versus Australia video highlights

Final score: Argentina 34 (31) Australia 45 (7)

Scorers

Argentina
Tries – Matera, Boffelli, Orlando, Gonzalez Iglesias
Pen – Gonzalez Iglesias
Con – Sanchez (3), Gonzalez Iglesias (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Australia
Tries – Hooper, Rodda, Folau, D. Haylett-Petty (2), Pocock,
Pen – Foley
Con – Foley (6)
Drop –
Cards – Latu (Yellow, 77′)

Match Officials
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)
Assistant Ref: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
Assistant Ref 2: Marius van der Westhuizen (SARU)
TMO: David Grashoff (RFU)

Teams

Argentina

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.

Australia

15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 David Pocock, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.

Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Sekope Kepu, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Tom Banks.

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