Rugby: Australia hold on for win

Israel Folau of the Wallabies runs the ball during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina. Photo / Getty Images
Israel Folau of the Wallabies runs the ball during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina. Photo / Getty Images

Fullback Israel Folau scored a first-half try and Australia held on for a less-than-impressive 14-13 win over Argentina on Saturday to give Ewen McKenzie his first victory as coach of the Wallabies.

The win, which ended a four-match losing streak, came in windy and rainy conditions in Perth as the Wallabies held on after leading 14-3 at halftime. 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.

Folau's 28th-minute try gave the home side its 11-point try at halftime, but the second half was dominated by Argentina.

The Pumas gained ascendancy at the scrum, but the visitors' only reward came when No. 8 Leguizamon crossed in the 65th minute.

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

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 throughout the match and White's kicks for touch in the first half were impressive enough that the ACT Brumbies No.9 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."

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Scores:

Australia 14 (Israel Folau try; Christian Leali'ifano 3 penalties), Argentina 13 (Juan Manuel Leguizamon try; Nicolas Sanchez conversion, 2 penalties). HT: 14-3.

- AP

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