Late Aussie flourish sets up Rugby Championship decider against NZ in Sydney

AUSTRALIA KEPT PACE with leaders New Zealand with a 9 – 34 bonus point victory over Argentina in Mendoza.

The world champion All Blacks had taken the box seat of the Rugby Championship on Saturday afternoon with a thrilling Test victory over South Africa in Johannesburg.

With the two sides to meet in Sydney, however, the Wallabies’ late two-try flourish to claim a bonus point will leave them in confident mood ahead of the Bledisloe Cup and Championship decider on 8 August.

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Joe Tomane’s 15th minute try put the visitors ahead, the winger touching down after Israel Folau punished a loose clearance kick by racing 40 metres in to the Pumas’ 22 where the gold support clinically found the passes to finish the move off.

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In what, for 77 minutes was a tight contest, try-scoring opportunities were hard to come by for the remainder of the half and two Nicolas Sanchez penalties to Bernard Foley’s one left the visitors with just a 6 – 8 advantage at the break.

Foley edged Australia further ahead on 42 minutes as the hosts killed the ball on an early Tevita Kuridrani carry close to the try-line. The sides traded further penalties before the hour, when the old warhorse Dean Mumm tilted the balance Australia’s way.

Source: AP/Press Association Images

The 31-year-old lock playing his first Test in four years, had plenty to do when he collected Michael Hooper’s pass on the right wing. Still, the second row gritted his gumshield and put his head down with 35 metres to go before the line. He shrugged the first would-be tackler off at the 22, handed off two more inside it and stepped off his right with five metres to go to carry two Argentine backs over the whitewash with him. A score more valuable than just five points, it broke the home side.

9 – 19 with 20 minutes remaining, the Wallabies had the game by the neck. However, their chase for a third and fourth try was complicated by a sin-binning for Quade Cooper – an early replacement for a concussed Matt Toomua – in the 57th minute. The playmaker returned to find another Foley penalty on the board, but his team no closer to four tries.

That soon changed. The often-maligned Green and Gold scrum forced the hosts backwards in their 22 and Hooper whipped the loose ball wide allowing Foley create a try for Kuridrani with an offload on the spin. 78 minutes, conversion slotted, clock ticking.

From the restart, Australia moved the ball with vicious intent from right to left and Folau, collecting the ball just outside his 22, hit the accelerator and found a gap in the tiring blue defence. The fullback was caught after crossing the Argentina 10 metre line, but an offload to Kurtley Beale who in turn released Adam Ashley Cooper delivered a crucial bonus point for Cheika’s side.

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