This has been a year to forget for Australian rugby but there has been a lot more to take from their recent performances and they will fancy their chances of getting a first win on the board against the Pumas tomorrow morning.
There was a feeling that their second half comeback against New Zealand might well have come with the All Blacks easing off but their superb performance in the next test confirmed that they were on the up, having taken a 17-0 lead during the first half before they then managed to grab the lead back twice in the second half before a pair of late Beauden Barrett tries gave victory to the All Blacks.
The drew with a South Africa side that appears to be improving last year, where there was a feeling that neither of those two sides played as well as they could have or did enough to win. The Wallabies will have been disappointed not to win after holding a 10-point lead in the 47th minute, whilst also perhaps relieved that South Africa did not manage to engineer the drop goal or penalty that would have seen them leave Australia winless in three.
Never the less, their draw represents decent form when one sees that South Africa managed to beat the Springboks by 18 points in Port Elizabeth and then 22 points in South America, where the Pumas didn’t have much of an answer to the physicality of the Springboks or the excellent direction of Elton Janties at flyhalf.
However, they were much improved when they made life very difficult for New Zealand last week, when they led at halftime and had the All Blacks on the ropes heading into the fourth quarter, when they were a man and seven points up following an excellent performance. They couldn’t prevent the All Blacks from taking victory, in part thanks to a large amount of possession conceded that they ceded through the game, and it’s interesting to note that Australia were also in control of the ball, having 56% of the possession and 57% of the territory last weekend.
Much depends on what Argentina side shows up, but Australia themselves have been playing well since the beginning of the Championship and they will hope to get over the line here even if the Pumas manage to show their best. However, it might be closer than the bookmakers suggest it will be; side from a 16-point defeat in Perth last year, the first three Tests between the two sides in the Rugby Championship have all been decided by seven points or less, and the 1-12 point margin for the home side or the visitors on the handicap might be the best bet.
For an anytime tryscorer bet, Kurtley Beale might be the best option. The entre has been Australia’s brightest spark this summer and scored three tries so far in the Championship.
1 pt Australia to win by 1-12 points (12/5 Ladbrokes)
1 pt Kurtley Beale to score a try (2/1 Coral, Ladbrokes)