Australia finish second in Rugby Championship

October 10, 2017

The 2018 Rugby Championship has proved that New Zealand are still the best side in the world, but Australia can at least say they are second in the southern hemisphere.

Australia secured the runners-up spot by winning their final match in Argentina 37-20 at the weekend to finish the campaign with two wins, two draws and two losses. The wins came against an Argentina side who endured a grim campaign as they came last, although the Pumas will hope a change of scene will help inspire them when they come to Twickenham a month from now. 

The two draws against South Africa were remarkable as such results are rare in international rugby, although there was almost another at Newlands as New Zealand scraped home 25-24. The All Blacks thus left Cape Town having gone through the tournament unbeaten, having secured the Bledisloe cup by thrashing Australia 54-34 in Sydney before managing a much narrower win over the Wallabies in Auckland and defeating Argentina twice. 

All that shows that New Zealand remain the best of the best and their ranking as world number one remains, although as number two England will be keen to usurp them and before the top two sides meet next year they will want to use next month to emulate New Zealand's victories over two of their southern hemisphere rivals.

England will face the Wallabies in the Old Mutual Autumn International series, with the sides meeting at Twickenham on November 18th. Fans can also book corporate hospitality for the matches against Argentina on November 11th and Samoa on November 25th.

The Wallabies' win over the Pumas in Mendoza was far from straightforward. For a long time the match looked like being yet another draw as the sides were level at 13-all at half-time and then 20-20 before the visitors pulled clear in the latter stages. They crossed the line five times, with tries by Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge (twice), Bernard Foley and Will Genia.  The resultant bonus point ensured they ended up a point ahead of South Africa and retain third place in the world rankings behind England. 

Argentina scored tries through Matias Alemanno and Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias. This took their total for the tournament to ten, but compares unfavourably to the tallies of 17 for South Africa, Australia's 25 and the 35 piled up by New Zealand. 

Having racked up no points, it appears the current Argentina side are in a state of transition, having been in fine form when they reached the semi-finals in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It may be no surprise, therefore, to see some talented youngsters given a chance to shine in London next month.  

Australia face New Zealand in another match at Brisbane on October 21st before catching the plane to England. A further defeat could be highly damaging to their morale, but a victory could provide them with the optimism they will need before facing Eddie Jones's men.

Since Jones took over, England have been just as effective in beating Australia as New Zealand, defeating them in last year's autumn internationals and whitewashing them 3-0 in Australia, an unprecedented feat for an England touring side. It is a formidable record that the home team will be going all out to maintain at Twickenham next month.

Image: Getty, from Keith Prowse subscription

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