2022 Argentina vs Australia

The Rugby Championship Round 2 Recap: Argentina At Top Of The Table

The Rugby Championship Round 2 Recap: Argentina At Top Of The Table

New Zealand and Argentina were the winners in the second round of the 2022 Rugby Championship, meaning each country in the field has one win and one loss.

Aug 14, 2022 by Briar Napier
The Rugby Championship Round 2 Recap: Argentina At Top Of The Table

Some of the participating Rugby Championship nations had a series of questions to answer following the first round of this year's tournament last weekend.

Consider some of those questions answered.

New Zealand and Argentina were the winners in this week's second round, meaning each country in the field currently has one win and one loss in the 2022 Rugby Championship. 

Not all of those records have been created equally, though, and with plenty of play in the event left to go, it's anyone's guess who prevails as the season goes along.

The matchweeks to come will tell more about which teams are contenders and which are pretenders, but the tension is building following Saturday's conclusion of the first of the "mini-tours" held throughout the tournament. 

That tension should come to a head very soon, making it as good a time as ever to follow along for the rest of the ride.

Want to catch up on what's going on? Here's a recap of Round 2 of Rugby Championship play. The entire Rugby Championship is being streamed live on FloRugby.

New Zealand Gets A Win, But is Foster's Job Safe?

Is this the result that saves New Zealand head coach Ian Foster from the sack? 

Time will tell, and the good vibes must continue, but the All Blacks' 35-23 triumph over South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday likely kept the three-time world champion's hopes to win repeat Rugby Championship titles afloat and also may have bought Foster some extra time on the touchline. 

New Zealand entered this weekend having lost five of its past six matches in its worst run of form since 1998, and a sixth defeat in seven opportunities would've been a downright disastrous stretch of tests across the proud history of the All Blacks. 

However, though Saturday's victory was one that was well-needed in the All Blacks' camp, it did not come easy. 

Despite a pair of New Zealand tries from embattled captain Sam Cane and hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho five minutes apart in the first half to start the game's scoring, the Springboks roared back with scores from Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi in the 36th and 58th minutes, respectively. 

Fly-halves Handre Pollard (South Africa) and Richie Mo'unga (New Zealand) traded successful penalty kicks throughout the match, as well, but Pollard's boot-through in the 67th minute gave the hosts a 23-21 lead with the clock ticking down. It put the pressure on the tourists to respond. 

Did the All Blacks ever respond.

David Havili crossed over at 73 minutes to get his team back into the lead, while Scott Barrett finished the job for good five minutes later to seal the deal and end New Zealand's three-match losing streak. 

No team has ever won The Rugby Championship in its current form (since 2012) after suffering multiple defeats in said year's competition, so for New Zealand to finally end its slump - and do it by way of beating an old rival on its own turf - it marks a potential turning point in the tournament for the All Blacks and a boost of momentum and confidence. 

The victory doesn't suddenly make everything sunshine and rainbows for New Zealand rugby, as it still sits at the bottom of The Rugby Championship table, needing to emphatically re-establish itself as a force to be reckoned with later this month when it hosts Argentina for a pair of matches. 

As for South Africa, the defending world champions likely were hoping to take advantage and notch the most points possible out of a wounded All Blacks team, especially considering it would be leading The Rugby Championship table had it held onto its late lead, but it would be silly to cast the Springboks aside as non-title challengers because they didn't do so.

How the trip to Australia goes later this month, however, likely will be more telling.

Seven-Try Argentina Thrashes Australia For Biggest Win Over Wallabies

Raise your hand if you had Argentina leading The Rugby Championship table after two matchweeks. If you did, congratulations, you're probably a time-traveler. 

In what proved to be a legendary day in Argentine rugby Saturday, Los Pumas stomped Australia 48-17 at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario in San Juan for their biggest win over the Wallabies and their first win in the competition as a whole since 2020. 

Current Argentina head coach and former Australia boss, Michael Cheika, got revenge over his home nation and former employer after the Wallabies pulled off a comeback victory in Round 1, with Los Pumas leaving no doubt by scorching the short-handed visitors for seven tries. 

Winger Juan Imhoff got the party started with a first-minute try, loosehead prop Thomas Gallo followed up four minutes later with one of his two scores on the night and the rout officially was on from there, as Argentina was clinical, calculated and cool in front of a raucous home crowd. 

Los Pumas turned to the kicking game early and often, booting 13 balls in the first half alone (compared to 15 total in the first test) and often were the first ones to pounce from them to much success, as Australia at times appeared disjointed - an understandable consequence for a squad that's seen numerous key players injured or otherwise unavailable for the mini-tour in South America. 

Hooker Folau Fainga'a, who scored a try in the competition opener, was ruled out due to injury shortly before this weekend's match, while coach Dave Rennie opted to slot in James O'Conner at fly-half after veteran Quade Cooper suffered an Achilles injury during the first test in Mendoza. 

Throw in captain Michael Hooper's departure before the series and a slew of other bumps and bruises in the Wallabies' squad, and the struggles and lack of consistent cohesion oozed out on the San Juan pitch. 

Nonetheless, Argentina certainly didn't mind its opponent's misfortunes. Now, partly because of them, Los Pumas lead the rest of the Rugby Championship field - a rare position for the country in one of the world's fiercest rugby tournament fields - headed into the second of three mini-tours. 

Considering upcoming foe New Zealand is 31-1-1 all-time against Argentina, it's not quite time to tip Argentina as the team to beat. 

Australia will hope that some players will be rested by the time it gets back home later this month to take on South Africa, but on the bright side, the Wallabies have won three of their past five meetings with the Boks and are on a seven-game unbeaten run in general against South Africa in the Land Down Under.