Mon, Oct 8, 11:52am by Staff Writer
The final weekend of the Rugby Championship produced two pulsating test matches, with Australia and New Zealand prevailing.
The Wallabies were down and out at half time as they trailed 31-7 to Argentina in Salta.
The hosts got off to a blistering start as they scored two tries in the opening five minutes of the match.
Pablo Matera and Emiliano Boffelli crossed the line, with Nicolas Sanchez converting.
The Wallabies answered in the 14th minute through captain Michael Hooper, with five-eighth Bernard Foley starting in the 10 jersey and kicking truly for Australia.
The hosts piled on 17 more points before the break, with Matias Orlando and Santiago Gonzalez scoring tries, with a penalty goal added.
The Pumas led 31-7 at half time, with Australia needing a monumental comeback to lift themselves off the foot of the Rugby Championship standings.
The Wallabies came out of the break firing and scored three tries in a seven minute span.
Izack Rodda, Israel Folau and Dane Haylett-Petty reduced a 24-point half time margin to just three points with just under half an hour to play.
The tries did not stop there for the Wallabies as David Pocock scored to give Australia its first lead of the match.
Dane Haylett-Petty scored his second try of the game to extend the visitors’ advantage, with Bernard Foley adding a late penalty goal.
The 45-34 win ensures Australia finished third in the Rugby Championship standings, with Argentina finishing in fourth position.
The win was Australia’s biggest ever comeback from a half time deficit and was desperately important for the fate of coach Michael Cheika.
Prior to Sunday’s test match, the Wallabies had lost eight of their past 10 matches under Cheika.
The remainder of the international season for Australia features a Test match in Yokohama, Japan against New Zealand to round out the three Test Bledisloe Cup series.
The Wallabies will then embark on their Northern Hemisphere tour and preparations will then begin for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Australia has dropped to eighth in the IRB World Rankings, but are fifth favourites to win the World Cup at $12.
Argentina made the semi finals of the last World Cup and are $34 to win the competition in Japan.
The All Blacks secured the 2018 Rugby Championship with an 18-point win against Argentina last weekend, but were out for revenge when they met South Africa in Pretoria.
The Springboks upset New Zealand in Wellington 36-34 in a gripping Test match last month.
The tables turned last weekend however, with the All Blacks completing a stunning comeback to win 32-30.
It was all South Africa in the opening exchanges, but they struggled to capitalise on the scoreboard.
In a tryless first half, the teams exchanged two penalty goals apiece and the score was 6-6 at the break.
The second half started brilliantly for South Africa with Jesse Kriel and Damien de Allende both scoring tries in the opening 15 minute of the second stanza, as the hosts built a 17-point lead.
Aaron Smith crossed for the All Blacks in the 53rd minute, with his score countered by a Cheslin Kolbe try and Handre Pollard conversion.
The All Blacks appeared down and out, but thanks to the stellar play of Rieko Ioane and Ardie Savea, they pulled off a miraculous comeback.
Ioane scored in the 62nd minute and when Scott Barrett barged over in the 75th minute, the All Blacks were within a converted try.
Savea earned a penalty at the breakdown that gave New Zealand possession and he finished off a wonderful attacking play with a try.
Richie Mo’unga converted the try in the 80th minute to cap off an impressive All Blacks win.
The New Zealanders are $2 to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup and face Australia in Japan before a Northern Hemisphere tour in November.
One of their opponents for that tour is world number two ranked Ireland, who are $5.50 to win the World Cup next year.
The Irish beat Australia in a Test series in June this year and will be one of the team’s to beat in Japan.
Rugby World Cup Odds
New Zealand $2
South Africa $8.50
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