GOLD COAST – Argentina coach Mario Ledesma says belief within his team is sky-high after their first win against the Wallabies in Australia for 35 years, crediting their work ethic for the breakthrough.
While the Pumas beat the Wallabies on home soil in 2014, it was back in 1983 when they last tasted victory in Australia when they came away the winners in Brisbane.
Their 23-19 upset on the Gold Coast on Saturday means they have now won two of their last three Rugby Championship fixtures, having also shocked South Africa.
In between, they went down 46-24 to New Zealand. Despite the loss, it was a spirited performance.
Ledesma, a former forwards coach with the Wallabies who was poached by Super Rugby side the Jaguares at the end of the 2017 season – before Argentina snapped him up – said he was proud of his players.
“Thirty-five years is a long time, but the most important thing is what the boys are doing day-to-day and week-to-week, how they’re working, the effort they’re putting in,” he said.
“They believe in themselves, that’s the most important thing here. This is their reward for what they are doing.”
Ledesma, himself a former hooker, shifted the scrum around against Australia after it was exposed by the All Blacks, bringing in prop Santiago Medrano for Garcia Botta and blindside flank Pablo Matera in place of Tomas Lezana.
He also had Gonzalo Bertranou back at scrumhalf, and their scrummaging and defence was a key factor in the win.
“Although we had some mistakes and sometimes gave the ball away, we did many things well too,” he said.
“At the beginning, we failed a bit in the one-on-one tackles, but we fixed that and got things together.
“We were far from perfect, but I congratulate the guys for what they have done.”
HIGHLIGHTS: 2018 TRC Rd 4: Australia v Argentina@lospumas snapped a six game losing streak against the @qantaswallabies, winning in Australia for the first time in 35 years, 23-19.#RugbyChampionship #AUSvARG pic.twitter.com/L3RYeUcVlo
The Pumas next play the All Blacks at home in a fortnight, with New Zealand reeling after the Springboks stunned them 36-34 in Wellington on Saturday.