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Wallabies player ratings vs Pumas | Rugby Championship

By Tom Raine

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It proved to be an arm wrestle of an affair between Australia and Argentina at Queensland Country Bank Stadium on Saturday evening, as the Rugby Championship entered its final stages. The Wallabies entered the clash looking to build upon their recent good form in the tournament, whilst Los Pumas aimed to take something tangible from the positive glimpses they had shown in previous weeks.

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Whilst an early penalty attempt from Argentina winger Emiliano Boffelli drifted wide, it served to set the tone for the match to come as Argentina refused to let the Wallabies get away from them. It was the Wallabies who ultimately demonstrated clinical edge however, as following a period of strong defence, Samu Kerevi surged upfield, setting the basis for an Australian attack. Reece Hodge proved the beneficiary, neatly finding his way to the line to take the Wallabies to a 7-0 lead, with Quade Cooper adding the extras.

Cooper was on hand with a piece of brilliance soon after, his deft grubber in behind the defensive line claimed by Len Ikitau, leading to Kerevi powering his way over from 3m out a phase later and take the Wallabies to a 14-0 lead. Boffelli did grab three points back for Argentina as his side looked to work their way back into the game but it was Australia, through Cooper, who enjoyed the last points of the half, heading in with a 17-3 lead.

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Who was the top performer in the All Blacks’ second win over the Pumas?
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Who was the top performer in the All Blacks’ second win over the Pumas?

It was Argentina who came out firing in the second half, a fantastically worked lineout maul seeing Julián Montoya dot down to bring the score back to 17-8. The Wallabies however soon found another level, as Argentina, not helped by a yellow card to flanker Marcos Kremer, started to see the Wallabies pull away.

The necessary impact came in the form of Dave Rennie’s substitutions, a change of pace provided by the likes of James O’Connor, in the side for the first time in 2021, proving decisive. O’Connor claimed a penalty and an assist in a try for Andrew Kellaway as the match finished 27-8, taking the Wallabies to second in the Rugby Championship table.

Here’s how the Wallabies rated:

1. James Slipper – 6.5/10
Took the charge to Los Pumas, trucking it up in attack when asked. Got into his work at scrum time and exerted his dominance over Santiago Medrano throughout the night, drawing the set piece penalty from his counterpart on several occasions. Off after 52 minutes.

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2. Folau Fainga’a – 6.5
Played a large role as part of a generally very positive night at scrum time for the Wallabies, although did fall foul of a few set piece penalties. Made good metres with ball in hand, but not his best night at lineout time as Argentina looked to compete aggressively. Off after 71 minutes.

3. Taniela Tupou – 8
Another big night of aggressive carries for the 25-year-old as he made the most metres and beat the most defenders of any Wallaby forward on the night. A crucial part of how the Wallabies were able to gain attacking momentum and stayed energetic throughout. Equally as devastating in defence and enjoyed a strong performance at scrum time. Off after 67 minutes.

4. Izack Rodda – 8
A very handy performance from the Western Force man, running effective blocker lines as part of his pods and managing the rolling maul well. Showed great energy across the park, working hard to make every breakdown and put in a big shift in defence notching up ten tackles.

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5. Matt Philip – 7.5
Put in a big defensive shift on the night and showed off an impressive skillset in attack with a couple of nicely timed passes. Fronted up to a scrappy and aggressive Los Pumas at lineout time. Off after 61 minutes.

6. Rob Leota – 6
Made a handful of big carries in this, his first start for the Wallabies. , but mainly found himself involved in Australia’s link play, providing several nice passes as part of Australia’s screening pods.  Off after 52 minutes.

7. Michael Hooper – 7
Not at his influential best on the night but still carried time and time again for his side, illustrating an unwavering work rate. Conceded a couple of early penalties, but on the whole performed his duties in both defence and attack.

8. Rob Valetini – 8.5
Put in some very good hits early on and worked in tandem with Hooper defensively. Continued in these efforts throughout, racking up the most tackles for any Wallaby on the night and in attack was fearless in the carry. Also offered crucial variation at lineout time.

9. Nic White – 6.5
Marshalled the Australian attack well, varying the speed of ball as required around the park and showing some nice touches. Made a good defensive contribution from the edges as he looked generally to make a nuisance of himself. Did unfortunately have a bit of a brain fade in forgetting that the base of the post is no longer fair game for a try under the laws. Off after 57 minutes.

10. Quade Cooper – 8
Looked to play on the front foot and seemed to have time in abundance on the ball to really pick his options – often enjoying great return from his choices. Once again showed his capabilities as a game manager, scanning and assessing play constantly in attack and defence. Perfect off the tee. Off after 57 minutes.

11. Marika Koroibete – 7
Ran hard with ball in hand and also ably demonstrated the variety of his skillset with a few nice passes and territorial kicks, showcasing a real completeness to his game. Also on hand to provide a few of his trademark big hits.

12. Samu Kerevi – 9
So often able to provide the vital injection of pace and directness to really get the Wallabies attack moving forwards, straightening the line and punching holes in the Argentinian defence. Beat the most defenders and made the most metres of any Wallaby on the night. Took a well deserved try of his own from close quarters in the first half, showing both strength and presence of mind to crash over and dot down quickly.

13. Len Ikitau – 9
Showed excellent defensive communication with Kerevi and Cooper throughout. Was selfless in attack, prepared to run the necessary lines and give the ball at the right time to maintain the speed and directness of Australia’s play. Made a couple of great attacking surges late on as the Wallabies went in search of a bonus point try.

14. Andrew Kellaway – 8.5
Worked well early on in the defensive pendulum with his back three. Also provided a nice bit of variation to the Wallabies backline, popping up at first receiver on several occasions and generally looking to get stuck in with ball in hand going on a few nice runs. Gained 85m and grabbed his fifth career try in eight tests, narrowly missing out on his sixth.

15. Reece Hodge – 7.5
Showed great impetus to bust through a tackle and fleetness of foot to step inside the final defender for the Wallabies first score. Consistently provided himself as a second playmaker in attack, regularly linking up with those around him and bringing directness and structure to the game. Off after 73 minutes.

Replacements

16. Feleti Kaitu’u – n/a
On after 71 minutes. Had a few wobbles at lineout time.

17. Angus Bell – 6.5
On after 52 minutes. Carried the ball hard at close quarters when required and enjoyed the defensive side of things.

18. Tom Robertson – n/a
On after 67 minutes. Provided a few good pieces of work in the closing stages.

19. Darcy Swain – 7.5
On after 61 minutes. Brought superb impact to the Wallabies lineout, both defensively and in attack, taking the fight to Argentina in this area. Also provided himself as a big ball carrying option in the latter stages.

20. Pete Samu – 7
On after 52 minutes. A work horse at ruck time, as he sought out the breakdown with devastating effect. Also on hand with a few surging attacking runs in the second half.

21. Tate McDermott – 6
On after 57 minutes. Along with O’Connor, was the injection of pace that the Wallabies needed in the final quarter of the game. Looked to attack the line but perhaps suffered from an overly scrappy closing stage.

22. James O’Connor – 7.5
On after 57 minutes. Came on and provided instant impact, taking the ball to the line with pace and showing a great range of passes, one of which being a neat inside ball, the assist for Kellaway’s try. Perfect off the tee.

23. Jordan Petaia – n/a
On after 73 minutes and had a good run.

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Wallabies player ratings vs Pumas | Rugby Championship

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