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Australia comes back, beats Argentina at Rugby Championship

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Associated Press
9/15/2012 9:29:57 AM
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GOLD COAST, Australia -- Facing defeat by Argentina for the first time in nearly 30 years in Australia, the Wallabies came from 13 points down with 20 minutes left to score two tries and beat the Pumas 23-19 in their Rugby Championship match on Saturday.

Man-of-the-match Digby Ioane crossed for Australia's second try and Berrick Barnes kicked the conversion 10 metres in from the touch line to give the Wallabies the lead for the first time in the game.

Argentina's only win against the Wallabies in Australia came in 1983 at Brisbane's Ballymore ground. The teams have not played each other since 2003, and Argentina's last win against the Wallabies came in 1997 in Buenos Aires.

The win moved Australia into second place ahead of South Africa in the four-nation competition behind first-place New Zealand, which beat South Africa 21-11 earlier Saturday. The All Blacks are undefeated in four matches and lead Australia by eight points.

All four teams have next weekend off before South Africa hosts Australia in Pretoria on Sept. 29 and New Zealand travels to La Plata, Argentina in the penultimate round of the inaugural competition.

Wallabies centre Pat McCabe started the comeback by crashing over after a pass from flyhalf Quade Cooper. Then stand-in halfback Nick Phipps darted to the blind side and burst past two defenders to put Ioane over.

A cramping Barnes, who missed two easy first-half penalties, hit the wide conversion and Australia was in the lead with 10 minutes left.

Trailing 6-3 at halftime, Barnes pulled the Wallabies level in the 49th minute before Argentina took charge of the match.

Cooper was charged down following the restart by Pumas replacement flanker Tomas Leonardi, who scored with his first touch of the ball.

Then playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez produced a strong kick return from a poorly chased Barnes high kick that saw Juan Imhoff put Julio Farais Cabello over for the visitors' 13-point lead.

Imhoff appeared to put his right foot into touch in the lead-up to the try that brought boos from many in the 22,278 crowd in the first rugby test match in the tourist region south of Brisbane.

Hernandez kicked his third penalty of the match soon after and it looked like Australia was headed for another upset loss to go with defeats to Scotland, Samoa and Ireland over the past 15 months.

Cooper had a forgettable first half, fumbling several times and also throwing an early intercept pass.

Australia coach Robbie Deans said he was considering replacing Cooper but decided against it because winger Dom Shipperley had a dislocated finger.

"It did cross our mind," Deans said. "We were to-ing and fro-ing there for a while but Dom's injury did complicate things ... and could leave (the bench) exposed."

Nathan Sharpe, who became the fourth Australian captain this year after injuries to Will Genia, James Horwill and David Pocock, said the Wallabies played strongly when they needed to.

"We had three or four minutes where we got back into the game," Sharpe said. "We showed a great deal of courage and commitment to come back."

Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said teams like the Wallabies never give up.

"We're very disappointed because we played so well," he said. "These types of teams, they don't stop until the last minute. In the last 20 minutes, we tried to hold it instead of trying the grab the game."

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Scores:

Australia 23 (Digby Ioane, Pat McCabe tries; Berrick Barnes 2 conversions, Barnes 2, Kurtley Beale penalties), Argentina 19 (Julio Farias Cabello, Tomas Leonardi tries; Juan Martin Hernandez 3 penalties).

Australia Celebrates (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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