Australia kicked-off the two-Test series against Argentina in impressive style as they came from behind to beat the Pumas 41-26 on Saturday.
Australia needed a confidence-boosting win in their first game back since losing the three-match series to England 2-1, and they got just that at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.
At one point it looked as though things would not go their way as they trailed 19-10 at the break but Dave Rennie’s side came roaring back after the half-time interval to take the win.
The victory was even more pleasing for Rennie as he was without a number of key players though injury and suspension. Not only that, but skipper Michael Hooper also withdrew from the squad just before the tour started.
Argentina on their own patch were always going to be a big test for the Wallabies. The Pumas had also just beaten Scotland 2-1 in a three-match series and would have been full of confidence.
So all things considered the Wallabies passed the test with flying colours and there are plenty of positives to take from the win.
They move on to the next game against the Pumas and will look to wrap up a 2-0 series win, but first let’s have a look at what we can take away from the opening win.
The Wallabies were hit by the news that skipper Hooper would not be involved in either game against Argentina after withdrawing due to mental health issues.
Hooper informed coach Rennie 24 hours before the game, saying he did not feel in the right frame of mind to play and lead the Wallabies against Argentina. He has since returned to Australia.
The move was fully backed by the entire Australian camp and Hooper will get all the support he needs.
The win against the Pumas again showed the team-spirit and togetherness in the squad as they overcame adversity to get the job done.
Just before the opening Test against England they lost Quade Cooper to injury before winning the game, and they showed the same spirit against Argentina.
James Slipper took over as captain and speaking after the game said the win was for Hooper.
“It’s a real proud moment for me and also the team because we really wanted to put in an effort that our fans could be proud of and also our captain Hoops (Hoops),” Slipper said in a post-match interview. “We were thinking about him all day and playing for him.”
The Wallabies also had to overcome another setback when losing the influential Cooper early in the second half of the game.
Cooper has already missed the entire series against England after picking up a calf injury in the warm-up prior to game one. And now more bad luck has struck.
The 34-year-old picked up an ankle injury after slipping on the turf and was later seen wearing a moon boot.
The full extent of the damage has yet to be revealed, but reports are suggesting Cooper may have ruptured his Achilles which would mean a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Australia once again showed they have plenty of strength in depth as Reece Hodge slotted in and replaced Cooper when he went off injured.
Hodge kicked Australia to victory and gave Rennie another option to replace Cooper going forward. Noah Lolesio and James O’Connor could also fill in.
“What we know with Hodgey is he’s trained all over the place this week and we needed the other guys to step up. I thought we were far more clinical (in the second half), we applied a lot more pressure, really happy with how we finished,” Rennie said after the game.
“That’s the thing about this group, there is a lot of character and courage and they stood up.”
The injury list is extensive to say the least. Samu Kerevi is of course out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.
Meanwhile Dave Porecki (concussion), Andrew Kellaway (hamstring), Angus Bell (toe), Scott Sio (neck/shoulder), Izaia Perese (patella) and Cadeyrn Neville (knee) are also on the sidelines.
Jed Holloway made his Wallabies debut and showed that he is more than capable of playing at this level.
Playing in the backrow, Holloway caught the eye with his lineout work, while his defensive effort was also impressive.
Rennie would have been delighted and it bodes well for the future.