Almanac Rugby Union: The 2020 Tri Nations Series – Australia 16 drew with Argentina 16

 

 

The Tri Nations for 2020 wrapped up on a steamy Saturday night in Sydney when the Wallabies hosted Los Pumas. With the silverware already secured by the All Blacks, both teams were playing for pride.

 

We saw some moments to be proud of, many were not.

 

Proceedings kicked off with the proudest moment of the match. Our national team was kitted out in jerseys with striking indigenous motifs as they stood in line to sing the national anthem. The accompanying music hinted this was to be a different rendition. The singer, Olivia Fox, promptly launched into a verse of the anthem in the language of a local dialect. The players joined in as the crowd watched on in awe. Next came the traditional verse but history had just been made.

 

This was the first time the anthem had been sung at a major event in an indigenous tongue. We’ll played, Wallabies. Let’s hope you back up that inspirational moment with a playing spirit in kind.

 

Alas it didn’t quite transpire as well as local fans would have liked. They had a lot of ball early but were ineffectual in gaining ground or opening up the opposition. The impenetrable early wall that has been a feature of the Cheika-assisted era for Los Pumas was on full display.

 

As the rain started to fall, the Wallabies did not adjust as well as their opponents. The Pumas kicking game was noticeably superior.

 

When the men in blue got a chance to apply the most intense pressure of the game late in the first half, they were clinical. A rolling maul from a lineout was executed brilliantly. The Wallabies were at sixes and sevens trying to stem the flow. The halfback saw an opening and darted through. A weaving run finished off by a clever pass to the winger and it looked curtains. A last desperate tackle attempt was in vain. The try was converted and the Pumas were on top.

 

The Wallabies managed to claw back a penalty on the halftime siren to get within 4 points.

 

When the Pumas got another penalty in the second half and the game was getting into a grind, it looked like they were eyeing the finishing line. They were again playing the conditions better as the rain got heavier. The Aussies just couldn’t capitalise on any territorial advantage they gleaned at critical junctures.

 

And herein lies the problem. When the game has been on the line in the last quarter, for far too long now the Wallabies haven’t been able to flick the switch to pressure rugby. They squander possession. They flub lineouts. All that happened last night but, through sheer determination, Captain Courageous came through. When Hooper crashed over, the game came alive.

 

Just like the previous game in Newcastle, the two sides were even stevens with crucial minutes on the clock. And just like in Newcastle, the visitors seemed to have more resolve.

 

In both games, Reece Hodge had long range penalty attempts to break the deadlocks. Both times he failed.

 

But that’s no reflection on Hodgie. He’s a bighearted fella always doing his best for his team and his country. It’s more reflective of the culture in Australian rugby of too many near misses being accepted and not galvanising everyone to face up to urgently needed changes.

 

We simply do not have the skills and resilience to match it with the best.

 

The All Blacks walloped the Pumas in their last outing after getting a rocket from their rugby fraternity. They made a statement. They left these shores leaving nobody in doubt as to who the top dog is in this neck of the woods.

 

The final table shows the ABs on top followed by the Pumas with the Wallabies finishing bottom. Not exactly the result wanted for a team that should have had a significant hosting advantage.

 

Everyone can take a break now and prepare for the parallel Super Rugby competitions that kick off in February. A long, languid summer is just what the doctor ordered after a trying Tri Nations.

 

But hey, the magnifico Los Pumas beat the All Blacks for the first time so let’s at least fiesta for a little while, as that was pretty bloody magical.

 

 

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About

Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

Comments

  1. In the first 20+ minutes, the Wallabies had dominant field position and received three kickable penalties which they declined to take and, instead, opted to kick for the sideline and a lineout close to the Argentinian try line where they proceeded to turn over the ball..
    Was this the coach’s game plan or a decision of the Captain Wonder Boy who continually brushes back his hair throughout every game..
    The failure to compete for the full duration of international sporting events has become a feature of many Australian sporting teams.
    Why are this generation “John Howard’s Children” like this?

  2. Sounds like you were actually there ruminator!
    Agree the highlight was the first ever rendition in indigenous language. A step in the right direction and I was in awe as well. The next step is to have an anthem our First Nation people also support however!

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