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Argentine jape a kick to Australia's mojo


Paul Cully

Scrambler ... Gonzalo Camacho.

Scrambler ... Gonzalo Camacho. Photo: AFP

There was a cheeky quip doing the rounds last week, the provenance of which points to one of the travelling Argentine scribes with a mischievous streak.

The punchline was that if the Wallabies didn't start winning soon the competition should revert to a Tri Nations format. The light-heartedness is obvious but the lack of reverence should not come as a surprise. Not only does the Wallabies' line-up tomorrow night lack physical menace, but Argentina have an identical record over the past two World Cups. They have taken on the southern hemisphere superpowers and have so far failed to see what all the fuss is about.

It helps when your game is built on an understanding and rigorous application of the fundamentals.

The body position of their forwards is so low and unforgiving that All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu was driven back in a tackle, burrowed under for a try and eventually replaced last week - after knocking on in the face of a blue and white wall. Kane Douglas's debut among the hard men of the Pumas' tight five will be an education.

With their kicking game, Argentina are skilful enough to make the distinction between frequency and purpose. The boot's reputation has taken a battering in the past week due to the Wallabies' love of the short varieties, but it remains one of the Test arenas best weapons.

In the 62nd minute last week, Juan Martin Hernandez, with little room to work in, pulled off a banana kick - a proper one, not the skewed impostor seen all too often - that carved off about 50 metres.

Australia's lack of a distance kicker has been dragging them down for years. The skill is clearly not unattainable but as yet is unachieved.

Still, the visitors are battling with an enemy well known to Australian players. The Argentines already have clocked more than 26,000 kilometres in travel for their first three games, against the world's two most physical sides.

It could hurt them more than most, because of the way they set up to defend. They put great faith in the scrambling qualities of their backs, particularly the outside-centre Marcelo Bosch and the right winger Gonzalo Camacho, whose ability to turn and chase has closed down many a perilous situation.

Adam Ashley-Cooper's flying double tackle was not the only outstanding cover work last week, with Bosch running down Victor Vito as a try in the corner appeared likely.

At times last week, Camacho was defending so narrowly that he was leaving almost half the field outside him from set-piece play.

The territory they concede on the outside is less pronounced during phase play but the invitation is the same - we dare you to go towards the touchline and we'll back our pace to cover you. There is potential there for the Wallabies on what should be a dry track in perfect conditions.

Indeed, the eyes of Quade Cooper and Dom Shipperley must have lit up when reviewing how the All Blacks collected their second try. From a scrum move, Aaron Cruden ran wide and, using decoy runners to hold up the defence, threw a long, difficult, left-to-right double cut-out pass to Cory Jane, who went over untouched.

Reds fans with happy memories of the 2011 title will need no reminding of Cooper's mastery of that art. In one crucial, regular-season game against the Force in Perth, he lobbed a delivery similar to Cruden's over the head of the Force's David Smith to create a matchwinning five-pointer. There might be a first Wallabies try for Shipperley if the youngster can be encouraged to hold his width, or redemption for Kurtley Beale when he comes on later on against heavy legs.

This could be a game too far for Argentina in this section of the tournament. There is a win coming for them, but it might have to wait until October, when the Wallabies arrive after what will be a rugged Test in Pretoria.


7 comments so far

  • What worries me most about the Wallabies, and I reckon it needs to be looked into, is their conditioning. How many are down with hamstring injuries? Compared to other teams we seem to suffer a disproportionate number of injuries which are related to conditioning and strength training. Knees, ankles etc are a different matter which can come down to just bad luck sometimes.

    Date and time
    September 14, 2012, 2:09PM
    • @ Gottalarf
      This is an area that I believe is already seriously being looked into. Wierd thing is and somewhat ironic is the 'conditioning' work that we are discussing was set to presumely steel the troops in what was/ is this up-coming and present physical and gruelling Test Match competition.
      Maybe there is an arguement for less 'conditioning' work and more emphasis on 'skills' work for the Wallabies?
      Either way it would be fascinating, as well as educational, to discover what ( if at all) the problem is as there seems to be a problem!

      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      September 15, 2012, 11:00AM
  • This Test is one that could go anywhere - Argentina with travel fatigue and the Wallabies missing Genia or just losing the compass.

    I just don't see it being close

    In transit
    Date and time
    September 14, 2012, 3:38PM
    • If it was only Genia missing, I'd back Australia, but there are just so many missing Wallabies. The missing forwards are what will hurt the most in this game though. Horwill, Pocock, Timani, Moore, Kepu... even Palu (who in my opinion is well past his best). That's a lot of the hardness taken out of forward pack.

      Even with all the injuries in the backs I think there is adequate cover. Genia is a big loss and it will be a good test for Phipps. I hope Cooper picks his game up and whilst I am a big fan of Barnes, I don't know if he has the counter attacking/open running game to play fullback, so I will be interested to see how he goes.

      Date and time
      September 15, 2012, 7:09AM
  • This one,i am afraid to say is going to be won by Wallabies.Sorry sookie babes out there.

    Daniel W
    Date and time
    September 14, 2012, 8:25PM
    • go the Argies. i am sick of the pathetic hapless performance ofthe Wallabies. and sick to death of Deans. sack him and lets give somone else a go. 24-19 NZ V Aust record to Henry says it all. Deans was at the helm of Aust for all of that. time to go dingo. hello Ewen! or anyone.

      Date and time
      September 15, 2012, 4:48PM
      • @vanman ..... I too am sick of the inconsistency and poor decision making but a true supporter NEVER supports the opposition when their team is playing (though I'll give credit to the other team when it's due). The Wallabies dug deep against the Boks in an improved performance but they have a lot still to work on. Call it blind optimism if you like but I'm ever hopeful that things will click and we'll see a great performance.

        Date and time
        September 15, 2012, 5:46PM

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