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Cooper suffers worrying injury as Wallabies claim ‘unfathomable’ victory in Rugby League opener




Australia overcame the late withdrawal of skipper Michael Hooper and the second-half collapse of No.10 Quade Cooper to earn a gutsy 41-26 win over Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener in Mendoza .

The Australians scored five tries from two to claim a bonus point and were clinical and composed on the stretch, only taking the lead for the first time with 15 minutes to play but then heading home after assist from a penalty try and a yellow card.

Australia were down nine points at the break but scored 31 points in the second half.

“It’s an unfathomable score,” Morgan Turinui told Stan Sport. “19-10 you lose your playmaker, the crucial cog in everything you do, you don’t win many Test matches like that. I am flabbergasted by this score.

Quade Cooper of Australia is tackled by Santiago Carreras. (Photo by Daniel Jayo/Getty Images)

Cooper appeared to suffer a torn calf muscle and while that remains to be assessed, it seems likely that he will miss most, if not all, of the remaining games in TRC.

His injury is just the latest in a long line of shocking luck for coach Dave Rennie. As well as losing his captain the day before the match, Rennie has seen star backs Tom Banks, Andrew Kellaway and Samu Kerevi and prop Angus Bell fall through injuries this season.

“We’ve had a reasonable streak of injuries, haven’t we? Rennie said. I thought we were a lot more clinical and I’m happy with how we finished.

“We have more in us but I’m really happy with the character we showed after late changes and the loss of a key guy in the game.”

James Slipper, who took over as captain from Hooper after the flanker admitted he needed a break from the game due to “mindset” issues, said the team had intent to win for his team leader.

“It was tough,” Slipper said. “Most of the game we were behind. It was a real proud moment for me and the team because we wanted to put on a performance that the fans would be proud of but also that our captain Hoops would be proud of. We thought about him all day and we were playing for him tonight.

Argentina started on fire although there was a hint of controversy at their opening try. Two phases before Pablo Matera rushed in for the first try in six minutes there was a clear forward pass. With all the interventions and stops of the TMO, it is difficult to conceive how it was missed and the test allowed.

Emiliano Boffelli converted the try and added two penalties to one from Cooper before Australia’s first try. Good work in the lineout from Darcy Swain established the platform and Cooper’s nuanced run and delayed pass allowed Jordie Petaia to burst into the line from the middle.

Two more Boffelli penalties gave the hosts a 19-10 lead and Australia pounced on them just after the restart. A brilliant push down the right involving Petaia and Tom Wright saw Jed Holloway pick up a ball on his shoelaces but with a try imminent Los Pumas forced a penalty.

Cooper fell in agony in the 47th minute and it looked like the momentum was with Argentina. But Fraser McReight, after Hooper’s decision to return home, crossed for a try to reduce the margin.

Los Pumas weren’t finished, responding with a superb counter-attacking try, but Australia were awarded a rare penalty try in the 61st minute after a collapsed maul. Matías Alemanno received a yellow card and the Aussies took advantage.

Reece Hodge struck from a penalty shortly after to put the Aussies ahead for the first half and with Argentina still 14, Folau Fainga’a capped off an assault game, flying off the maul and bursting on the test line.

Australia had a penalty just after the siren but both teams played for bonus points and with 85.04 on the clock Len Ikitau crossed to claim the extras.

“The players are on their feet, we are pretty much on their feet too,” Andrew Mehrtens said on Stan Sport. “What a streak of play, two drunken punch teams.”




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