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The Rugby Championship

An annual competition involving the southern hemisphere’s top four rugby-playing nations – New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. Known as the Tri Nations from 1996 to 2012, when the Pumas were invited to join the party.

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RUGBY UNION

Pumas say victory is within reach after spirited performance against Wallabies

Following their impressive first half against Australia on Saturday, Argentina’s coach is confident that victory is not far away

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 1:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2012, 3:42am

Argentina insist their first Rugby Championship win is just around the corner after letting slip a golden opportunity to beat the Wallabies.

The Pumas led 19-6 with 20 minutes to play only for Australia to score 17 unanswered points and claim their second consecutive win, following another come-from-behind victory over South Africa in Perth the week before.

Argentina coach Santiago Phelan conceded the 23-19 loss was a match the Pumas should have won.

“We could have won this game,” said Phelan. “It was a good opportunity that we missed.

“The start of the second half was very good for Argentina. There were some moments where we could have put some more points on... but we couldn’t do it.

“We will try to keep improving ourselves to keep on playing with the same attitude that the team displayed.”

Argentina play their last two Rugby Championship matches on home soil, against New Zealand in La Plata on September 29 and the Wallabies in Rosario on October 6.

Pumas captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe insisted Argentina would be ready for the challenge and that the team was “working very, very hard”.

“This is the intensity we want to play with in every game,” he said. “We’ll use this week off to really recover, luckily now we don’t have to travel so we can just stay home and use that to our advantage.

“We want to make Argentina a top team in the world and we’re going to keep working, that’s the only way to reach it.”

Lobbe said the eighth-ranked Pumas were confident of victory in one of their final two matches.

“We’re convinced that it’s going to come, that first win that we are really looking forward to,” he said.

Australian coach Robbie Deans, who was under intense pressure heading into the match said the Wallabies’ win should not be underestimated.

A loss to the Pumas would have almost certainly resulted in Deans getting the sack before next year’s tour by the British and Irish Lions.

“I wouldn’t underestimate what we just did to be frank,” Deans said. “No side has played with any fluency against the Argentinians.

“I think we need to give due respect to them. They’ve just come into the tournament and a big motivation for them is to earn respect and they have done that against every opponent.

“They’re a tough team to play against. They’re sticky, they’re proud, they defend superbly well. Their attack is remarkable. Give them credit.”

The Wallabies play the Springboks in Pretoria on September 29 before finishing against Argentina the following week.

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