The Tri-Nations of 2020 ended how it started for the Wallabies with a wet weather draw. The Pumas and their hosts held each other to 16 points-a-piece in what could be politely described as a forgettable spectacle.
The rain-affected conditions caused numerous handling errors for both sides, hence the match never really found its natural ebb and flow. Weather, coupled with some pedantic officiating ensured neither side could play an attractive style of rugby.
The Argentinians line speed coupled with their physicality in defence and in the driving maul had the Wallabies rattled early. Yet to their credit the Wallabies found their way back into the match with a late try to skipper Michael Hooper that was converted by fullback Reece Hodge to level it up.
Yet the real story of the match was when the Wallabies were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute just inside the Pumas half and up steps Reece Hodge.
For the third time this season the likeable utility had an opportunity to win a test match for the Wallabies with a dying stages penalty kick but yet again, it wasn’t to be with Hodge missing to the right of the posts.
So how did the Wallabies rate?
1. Scott Sio – 6.5/10
A credible performance in the set piece yet had moments in the match where he appeared to spectate more than participate. With the likes of Angus Bell and Harry Johnson-Holmes pushing for more regular test rugby, the veteran Sio will need to deliver better in 2021 if he is to retain his position.
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – 6.5/10
Was solid in the lineout considering the conditions, yet he was not much of a threat with the ball in hand. The Queensland Reds hooker was solid in defence without being menacing in the contact. He has played better.
3. Allan Alaalatoa – 6.5/10
Similar to Scott Sio, he was credible in the set piece but appeared lethargic at times around the park. How he and bench weapon Taniela Tupou are used in the future will be intriguing as it appears the Wallabies are yet to identify their best front row combination.
4. Rob Simmons – 5.5/10
The London Irish-bound lock may have played his last test for the Wallabies. There were a number of handling errors and arguably his best involvement of the game was when he found himself in possession and he found touch with a lovely 20 odd meter rake that most fly halves would be happy to call their own.
5. Matt Philip – 6.5/10
Industrious as ever yet he was penalised several times around the lineout putting pressure back his side. Philip is ‘old school tough’ and relishes the direct contact however his game could improve with footwork prior to contact when in possession and furthermore he needs to be tighter on his hammer or latch roles when not the lead runner.
6. Ned Hanigan – 6/10
Performed well in the lineout however didn’t cause the Pumas any great distress on any other facet of the game.
7. Michael Hooper (c) – 6.5/10
Not his greatest test but that’s not to say he didn’t play well. He simply didn’t impose himself on the match as he can do despite scoring a try to keep his side within touch of victory.
8. Harry Wilson – 6/10
Only played the first half and again showed his ability to carry the ball into contact. He didn’t always win the collision but he does attract defence when he is around the ball which speaks volumes. Expecting better things from Wilson in 2021.
9. Nic White – 7/10
Probably the Wallabies best player despite some wayward passing. He was consistently trying to find cracks in the Pumas defence and his option taking was more often than not correct.
10. James O’Connor – 6.5/10
Returning from injury, the veteran flyhalf never really found his rhythm in setting up his attack and despite some quality touches the alignment of the Wallabies attack never found its mark. Despite this issue O’Connor’s tactical kicking game was his highlight tonight.
11. Marika Koroibete – 6/10
He didn’t get much opportunity tonight and had his moments however he also was guilty of the odd unnecessary penalty or mistake that a player of his calibre and experience should be committing. Needs to find consistency at test level.
12. Hunter Paisami – 5.5/10
Had his moments but was at times to lateral or one out in attack. His missed tackle that lead to a Pumas try was uncharacteristically flaccid for a player capable of so much more in defence.
13. Jordan Petaia 4/10
Forgettable test match. Nothing really went right for him. Needs to get back at simply running hard at space as that’s what brought him so much success earlier in his representative career.
14. Tom Wright 5.5/10
Did reasonably well with little opportunity.
15. Reece Hodge 6/10
Had a fair test in both attack and defence yet, he will again be remembered for missing yet another shot on goal that could have brought victory for the Wallabies in the dying stages. He shouldn’t carry the burden alone but if he is going to be selected for his long-range kicking, it’s time he nailed a few at the business end of the match.
16. Folau Fainga’a – 5.5/10 – On in the 57th and was solid without being spectacular. Was caught out baulking the throw in a lineout which is unforgivable at this level.
17. Angus Bell – 6.5/10 – On in the 60th and brought some real starch and impact. Will be pushing for starting honours in 2021.
18. Taniela Tupou – 7/10 – Was the Wallabies best forward. Was a handful in the scrum and in the tight practically carrying Michael Hooper over the line for his try.
19. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – N/A – On in the 51st, sent off in the 60th.
20. Rob Valetini – 6.5/10 – Hand some quality involvements with the ball in hand but not sure he’ll unsettle a starting back row of Wilson and Swinton but could be an effective bench player supporting those two in 2021.
21. Jake Gordon – N/A – on in 71st.
22. Irae Simone – N/A – on in 75th
23. Tom Banks – N/A – on in 72nd.
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