Australia beat Argentina 27-8 to go second on The Rugby Championship table after another impressive performance at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
Australia continued their recent upturn in form by adding a third win on the trot in this season’s Rugby Championship after an enthralling victory over Argentina in Queensland.
Dave Rennie’s side scored three tries to one as they claimed the bonus-point win against the winless tourists.
Australia has now won three games on the bounce in four years, while Argentina has lost all five of their Rugby Championship Tests.
Reece Hodge and Samu Kerevi’s first-half tries, and the boot of Quade Cooper, put the Aussies on top at the break.
Cooper converted both tries and added a penalty, while Emiliano Boffelli added a goal of his own.
Julian Motoya flopped over the chalk soon after the restart, but Boffelli missed the conversion and a long-range penalty to keep the score at 17-8.
James O’Connor extended the home team’s lead to 12 points on the hour after Marcos Kremer’s brain freeze.
The Wallabies only managed three points with the extra man, and should really have been made to sweat.
But the hosts sealed the deal when Andrew Kellaway scored his fifth Test try after O’Connor put the wing away.
O’Connor converted to make it 27-8 with eight minutes remaining.
Australia took a commanding 17-3 lead into the sheds after scores by Hodge and Kerevi
Australia dominated the first half with 65 percent possession and 65% territory as they looked to punish Argentina’s ill-discipline.
Los Pumas conceded five penalties as the Wallabies kept them pinned inside their 22 for much of the half.
Australia, however, also leaked penalties, most inside the Pumas’ 22, which hampered their chances of putting the game to bed.
Hodge and Kerevi’s converted first-quarter tries gave Rennie’s side a two-goal lead, but the hosts should have scored more.
Instead, Boffelli – who missed an early penalty, put his team on the board a minute after Kerevi’s try.
The 27-year-old centre ran for 90 metres on 14 carries (the most by any player), beating six defenders with two linebreaks. He also made all his tackles, missing none.
Rennie’s charges were playing with pace and tempo. They are sending the ball wide at every opportunity, using their outside backs to stretch the visitors.
Hodge collected Cooper’s pass and cut through the Argentina defenders to open the scoring after Boffelli missed his first penalty.
The 27-year-old fullback straightened, slipped Lucio Cinti’s tackle before cutting inside Juan Cruz Mallia to claim his 13th Test try.
Six minutes later, the home team doubled their tally.
Kerevi chased down Cooper’s grubber behind the defenders before barging over the whitewash.
He was initially held up over the line, but the midfielder dotted the ball down on the chalk for his seventh Test score.
Nic White had a try disallowed for a knock-on at the base of the post after the scrumhalf tried to dart around a ruck on the opposition’s line.
Michael Hooper opted for the points after Argentina defended two driving mauls on their line.
The Pumas also stole a lineout inside their 22 and won a couple of pressure-relieving penalties at the breakdown to keep the deficit in check.
Mario Ledesma’s side had failed to score a try in the first half of all four of their Rugby Championship matches, and they did not do so again.
It was another blunt attacking display, although the South Americans were limited in possession and territory.
Cooper extended the lead back to 14-points with a 32nd-minute penalty, but the Aussies could not make their opportunities count.
Ledesma’s charges come out firing after the break but ill-discipline costs the Pumas
Motoya crashed over the line four minutes after the restart.
The try came after the captain opted to eschew the points and instead kick to the corner after Hodge’s error led to a penalty to the visitors.
A powerful driving maul bulldozed the opposition, who could do nothing but backtrack over their goal line.
Boffelli’s conversion ht the posts but at least the visitors had crossed the chalk having only scored two tries in this year’s tournament.
Boffelli missed a long-range penalty on 53 minutes, but Argentina was beginning to gain momentum in all areas of the park.
The South Americans continued to have the better of the game, they kept winning turnovers and stealing lineouts, but a brain freeze by Kremer cost his side.
The flanker was yellow carded on 56 minutes for tripping. Australia attacked down the field and should have scored but for some shoddy handling.
Enter O’Connor for Cooper, who kicked an important penalty, and set up Kellaway’s late score
O’Connor, on at standoff for Cooper, slotted the penalty to make it 20-8.
The Pumas kept coming though, they camped inside the Aussie’s 22 but could not convert pressure into points after several driving mauls on the 5m.
It was the story of the day for the men in light blue and white hoops.
The introduction of O’Connor saw Kellaway finish off a 16-phase attack when the winger took the 31-year-old standoff’s inside pass to kill the game.
Final Score: Australia 27 (17) Argentina 8 (3)
Tries – Hodge, Kerevi, Kellaway
Pen – Cooper, O’Connor,
Con – Cooper (2), O’Connor
Tries – Montoya
Pen – Boffelli
Cards – Kremer (Yellow, 56′)
Referee: Matthew Carley (ENG)
Assistant Ref 1: Jaco Peyper (RSA)
Assistant Ref 2: Nic Berry (AUS)
TMO: Brett Cronan (AUS)
15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Leota, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 James O’Connor, 23 Jordan Petaia
15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Facundo Gigena
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Rodrigo Martinez, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Joaquin Oviedo, 21 Gonzalo Garcia, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Mateo Carreras