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Australia closes out Championship with rout of Argentina

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The Canadian Press
10/5/2013 10:27:58 PM
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ROSARIO, Argentina -- Australia saved its best for last in the Rugby Championship by tearing apart Argentina by a stunning 54-17 on Saturday.

The Wallabies were considered ripe for plucking by a Pumas side which believed an advantage of home ground and confidence could help deliver it a first championship win in its 12th match and second campaign.

But the Wallabies scored the first of their seven tries within three minutes, were relentless to the end against a flimsy defence, and even their much maligned scrum upstaged a Pumas pushover attempt with seven men to help record their biggest victory on Argentine soil.

"It's a real confidence booster for us, we're very, very happy," Wallabies skipper James Horwill said. "One to 15 put in the effort, and especially here in Rosario, it's a tough place to play."

To the relief of under-pressure coach Ewen McKenzie, Australia finally clicked. Fullback Israel Folau scored three tries, the first Wallabies hat trick in two years, and helped set up another for winger Adam Ashley-Cooper. The other winger, Joe Tomane, capped an impressive game with a superb individual try.

Substitutes finished off the rout, with prop Benn Robinson dotting down and flyhalf Bernard Foley scoring on debut in a breakout from their own posts in the last minute.

Argentina was left with the wooden spoon for a second straight year, and six straight losses for the first time since 1977.

"Congratulations to Australia, they came here against the wall and they played great rugby," said Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

Just like last year when the Wallabies edged a win in Rosario to ruin the retirement of 14-year Pumas prop Rodrigo Roncero, they also spoiled the night for midfielder Felipe Contepomi, Argentina's caps (87) and points (651) record-holder who was playing his last match. And like Roncero, Contepomi never enjoyed a win over Australia.

Australian halves Will Genia, the former captain recalled at scrumhalf, and Quade Cooper spearheaded their attack by taking on the defence, and gave the outside backs room to run. Cooper and Tomane set up Folau for his first try within minutes, but Australia made a bigger statement soon after in defending its tryline.

The Pumas tried to score from their renowned scrum in the left corner, and forced penalties against both Wallabies props ending with a yellow card for loosehead James Slipper. But down to seven men in the scrum, Australia thwarted a pushover try attempt by the Pumas, flanker Michael Hooper stole the ball, and Australia cleared. The Pumas' scrum was never a threat again.

While Pumas flanker Pablo Matera was in the sin-bin, Australia boosted the lead to 25-3 with tries to Ashley-Cooper and Folau.

Pumas centre Marcelo Bosch scored a converted try to take the gloss off a half dominated by Australia, but Folau put the visitors back on track 90 seconds into the new half when he took an inside pass from Cooper and completed his hat trick, and Australia's first four-try bonus point this season.

Even with Australian lock Rob Simmons in the sin-bin from the 50th, Argentina couldn't take advantage again, and the Wallabies seemed to break tackles almost at will for their eighth straight win over the Pumas since 2000.

Australia Argentina (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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