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Pumas laud Pichot after historic Wallaby win, Aussies moan about lasers

Here’s the highlights of Argentina’s awesome day.

ARGENTINA DEDICATED THEIR heir first Rugby Championship victory to former star Agustin Pichot Sunday while Australia fumed over laser-beaming Mendoza spectators.

Pichot, an inspirational scrum-half and skipper when the Pumas finished third at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, was widely praised after a come-from-behind 21-17 victory.

Coach Daniel Hourcade, skipper and hooker Agustin Creevy and long-serving inside centre Juan Martin Hernandez were among those who lauded Pichot.

The 40-year-old played a key role in convincing southern hemisphere officials two years ago to expand a Tri-nations tournament featuring Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and include Argentina.

“I thank Agustin for his support and leadership,” said Hourcade, who replaced Santiago Phelan last year after two winless Championship campaigns.

Creevy said: “I am grateful to Agustin for his unconditional support.”

“Many people were involved in making this dream come true, but I want to dedicate the victory to Agustin, ” said Hernandez.

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Ambitious Argentina, the lone top-tier rugby nation in South America, will enter the Super 18 inter-provincial competition in 2016 and take another giant step forward.

While Argentina celebrated a maiden Championship Test victory after 16 losses and a draw over three seasons, Australia fly-half Bernard Foley lashed out at laser beamers after fluffing a simple penalty.

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Several lasers were trained on him as he prepared for a routine second-half kick at goal that would have given the Wallabies a 20-18 lead.

But his attempt rebounded off the post, the Pumas scrambled the ball clear, and a late penalty from fly-half Nicolas Sanchez sealed success at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.

“It’s not great,” Foley told reporters after contributing seven points from two conversions and a penalty. “It was happening all night on all of my kicks.

“How do you stop it? Maybe a rekick will teach them. Who knows?”


Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie was equally angry after a match in which his team surrendered an early 14-point advantage.

“It’s a problem and only seems to happen at certain grounds. We have talked about this in the past and it has cropped up again.”

Lasers beamed mainly at goalkeepers and free-kick takers is an on-going problem in football, but rare in rugby.

But there was also praise for the Mendoza crowd, who filled much of the 40,000-seat stadium in the western Argentine city at the foothills of the Andes.

“To see their reaction at the final whistle was incredible,” said England-based Test veteran Creevy.

Leading 2014 Championship points scorer Sanchez added: “We are always warmly received here and have achieved good results.”

Argentina tackled South Africa in Mendoza in 2012 and 2013, drawing the first match and unluckily losing the second by five points.

In the Wallabies’ eyes there were several controversial decisions by referee Nigel Owens during last night’s Test: He yellow-carded two gold-shirted men; scrum-half Nick Phipps and skipper and flanker Michael Hooper, in the second half while reversing decisions to sin-bin lock James Horwill and full-back Israel Folau.

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Hooper was unlucky to be sent to the touchline late in the second half having unavoidably collided with Argentina full-back Joaquin Tuculet.

Australia centre Tevita Kuridrani, who claimed the third-minute opening try, appeared to have scored another during the second half, but the television match official could not see the grounding.

New Zealand topped the final Championship standings for the third consecutive year with 22 points despite a 27-25 final-round loss to South Africa in a Johannesburg thriller.

The Springboks came second with 19 points, the Wallabies third with 11 and the Pumas last with seven.

- © AFP, 2014

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