The Tri Nations has been blown wide open after the Wallabies were held to a 15-all draw against Argentina in Newcastle. All three nations in the competition sit on six competition points, with both the hosts and New Zealand to play once more, while the Pumas have two matches to play.
Australia looked on top from the get-go, and simply dominated the opening forty. The hosts had 63% of possession in the first-half, and 75% of the territory, but only led by three-points at the break.
Reece Hodge and his opposite Nicolas Sanchez continued their kicking dual into the second-half, with the Wallabies running out to a 15-6 lead with just under 25-minutes to play. But Sanchez’s reliable boot brought the Pumas back to level terms with 10-minutes to play, as he looked to replicate last week’s heroics.
But it wasn’t to be. Both Hodge and Sanchez missed a penalty each.
Overall the Wallabies were far from their best, even though there was some players who played arguably their best match in a gold jumper. Here’s how the Wallabies rated.
1. Scott Sio – 5.5/10
Sio had a few strong carries against the Pumas, and also did his job in defence. He did give away two penalties for collapsing at the scrum just before he was subbed off though.
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – 6.5/10
Paenga-Amosa was largely accurate at the set-piece, throwing at close to 75% from his 17 throws into the lineout. Other than that though, he struggled to make an impact on the match with just three carries and three tackles. He did make one decent break down the right edge though early in the first-half.
3. Taniela Tupou – 6.5/10
The Tongan Thor’s first real involvement in the match was a neat one-handed offload seven minutes in, but other than that, the 24-year-old wasn’t close to his best. He was penalised twice, gave away a free kick, and made a few errors around the park which no doubt contributed to his substitution at half-time.
4. Rob Simmons – 6.5/10
Simmons didn’t have any highlight plays against Argentina, but did his job nonetheless. The second rower was a reliable option at the lineout and got involved in attack.
5. Matt Philip – 8/10
Philip was one of the best performers in Super Rugby AU this year, and we saw exactly why that was in Newcastle. Fox Sports Australia commentator Greg Clarke described the 26-year-old as a “workhorse” early on in the test, and that’s exactly why he stood out against the Pumas. Philip had the most carries of any player on the park with 14 – but that doesn’t do his work rate justice. He constantly jumps up off his feet and looks to get involved; carrying the ball twice in three phases more than once on Saturday. Philip was also the primary option for the Wallabies at the lineout.
6. Ned Hanigan – 6.5/10
Hanigan worked hard for his side in some of the darkest places in the rugby field. He worked hard for every metre he ran, but he’s certainly had better performances in a Wallabies jersey.
7. Michael Hooper – 6/10
The captains first major involvement in the match was a knock-on around the 11-minute mark, which pretty well summed up his performance. He was unusually quiet during the first-half, and while it was an improved second half, it was far from Hooper’s best performance in gold. Six tackles and four carries – it’d be pretty hard to justify a higher rating than a six.
8. Harry Wilson – 7.5/10
It’s hard to believe that this guy is only 20 (turning 21 tomorrow), his performances are well beyond his years. He made a few big tackles early on, and was effective in attack. Wilson ran for 10 metres and had five passes, proving a solid link between the forwards and backs at times.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 21, 2020
9. Nic White – 7/10
White was once again impressive for the Wallabies, providing fast and reliable ball for his side in attack. His kicking display was pivotal at times as well, constantly kicking his side into better attacking positions.
10. Reece Hodge – 7.5/10
It was a mixed performance from Hodge, whose performance will largely be overshadowed by a missed kick at the death that would’ve potentially have given his side the win. The 26-year-old ran for the most metres of any player on the day with 74 metres from 11 carries, and another 13 passes. Scored all of the Wallabies points to, in what turned out to be a kicking competition against Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez. Despite kicking five from five at the time, a missed penalty with three minutes to go turned out to be the difference between a win and a draw.
11. Marika Koroibete – 4/10
The 2019 John Eales Medallist has had a mixed 2020 test season, that’s largely been exceptional. But tonight Koroibete went missing in what was an error-riddled performance. He so nearly added to his already impressive try scoring tally just before half-time though, had a Tom Banks pass not have gone forward. Still, it was a night to forgot for the winger.
12. Hunter Paisami – 8/10
Throughout the opening forty minutes, few would argue in saying that Paisami was the best player on the park. Throughout his career to date we’ve seen plenty of hard running that’s definitely impressed, but tonight the showed that he’s more than that, stepping up as a playmaker. He so nearly assisted his Reds teammate in Jordan Petaia for what would’ve been the opening try of the match, but a clever kick in-behind the Pumas defensive line ran inches too far. But like we’ve come to know from his game, the insider centre also took the ball to the line plenty of times. He finished with nine runs for 32 run metres, and made the most tackles of any Wallabies player with eight.
13. Jordan Petaia – 8/10
Just like his centre partner, Petaia was a standout in the first-half, but as the Pumas rallied in the second, he struggled to maintain his control over the game. The 20-year-old had a few promising runs early on, but so nearly scored a stunning try 15 minutes in. Chasing a Paisami kick in-behind the Pumas defence, an acrobatic Petaia so nearly grounded the ball by doing a forward roll – but his foot was on the dead ball line. Other than that, his runs in attack were incredible, with a simply outstanding ability to stay on his feet. He ran the most metres of any player in the first half with 55 metres, but didn’t add to his tally at all in the second.
Fans have taken to social media to express their amazement at the athleticism shown by Wallabies midfielder Jordan Petaia in the act of failing to score what would have been a contender for try of the season. #ARGvAUS #TriNations https://t.co/zWWSSQvTY0
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 21, 2020
14. Tom Wright – 7.5/10
After a superb debut two weeks ago in Brisbane, Wright showed that he well and truly belongs at this level with another strong showing. He ran for 32 metres from four carries, and generally looked threatening running down the right wing.
15. Tom Banks – 7/10
It’s simple: the Wallabies are a better team with Banks on the field. He was reliable under the high ball, and got his chances to look dangerous in attack – running for 44 metres from seven carries.
16. Folau Fainga’a – 6/10
17. Angus Bell – 5.5/10
18. Allan Alaalatoa – 5/10
19. Rob Valentini – 6/10
20. Liam Wright – 5.5/10
21. Jake Gordon – 6.5/10
I was pretty impressed with Gordon once he came on. It was pretty surprising in the lead-up to the test to have seen Gordon replace Tate McDermott, who was impressive in his two tests against the All Blacks. But Gordon exited well, kicking his team out of trouble on more than one occasion.
22. Noah Lolesio – N/A
23. Filipo Daugunu – 6/10
In his 15 minutes on the park, Daugunu ran for 23 metres from three runs. Not a bad guy to bring on off the bench.
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