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Wallabies hold on to beat Argentina at Championship

The Canadian Press

9/14/2013 6:26:35 PM

PERTH, Australia -- Australia gave Ewen McKenzie his first victory as coach by holding out for a less-than-impressive 14-13 win over Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

In ending a four-match losing streak in windy and rainy conditions in Perth, the Wallabies scored their only try through fullback Israel Folau to lead 14-3 at halftime but didn't score again. Juan Manuel Leguizamon's second-half try pulled the visitors close.

Australia had lost three Rugby Championship matches in a row after being defeated in the deciding British and Irish Lions test. The loss was Argentina's fourth in a row in the tournament and left the South American side in last place.

Argentina led with an eighth-minute penalty, but Folau beat four opponents to cross over in the 28th, while Christian Leali'ifano added three penalties.

In a second half dominated by the Pumas, they gained ascendancy at the scrum but their only reward came when No. 8 Leguizamon crossed in the 65th.

McKenzie gambled during the week when he dropped star halfback Will Genia to the bench, but the move paid dividends. Genia's replacement, Nic White, performed well and his kicks for touch in the first half were impressive enough that he played out the entire match.

Australia captain Ben Mowen, standing in for the injured James Horwill, said the win was rewarding despite the close scoreline.

"I thought the early results we got, a couple of early penalties, that was a big statement from where we were last week," Mowen said, referring to the Wallabies' poor scrum performance in a 38-12 loss to South Africa.

"We had to play disciplined in terms of field position near the end, and had to manage the territory. We did that.

"We know the rugby public haven't been happy with the results we've given them at this stage. We see those comments and it motivates us."

McKenzie said he was pleased with his first win, and said he didn't mind if there were references to the Wallabies winning ugly.

"There was some really good moments of character there," McKenzie said. "We had to defend our line in the second half. They're the moments that ultimately define the team and the character of the people and how they work together."

The tournament is idle until Sept. 28 for the penultimate round when South Africa plays the Wallabies in Cape Town and New Zealand takes its 4-0 record to La Plata, Argentina to play the Pumas.