Robbie Deans hails 'gutsy' Wallabies win

Last updated 18:35 07/10/2012

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Robbie Deans hailed it as one of  the gutsiest wins of his tenure as the Wallabies ensured their coach would see out the year in his job by denying an Argentine ambush.

It wasn't pretty but a patched-up, inexperienced Australian outfit showed great spirit to end the Rugby Championship in second  place with a 3-3 win-loss record by securing a 25-19 triumph over  the Pumas in Rosario on Saturday (local time).

Record-breaking skipper Nathan Sharpe had implored his young  team to handle the local hostility ''like men, not boys'' and they  stood up in front of a jam-packed Estadio Gigante de Arroyito.

Rookie backs Mike Harris, Nick Cummins and Ben Tapuai - boasting  just one previous run-on Test start between them - notably rose to  the occasion under immense pressure.

Not even laser beams shone from the crowd at Harris and standout  playmaker Kurtley Beale as they lined up penalty attempts could  deny the tourists.

A short, skinny field - just 66m wide and 95m from goal line to  goal line - and a heavy dew made for a tight, rugged game which was  dominated by the whistle of referee Craig Joubert for the first  hour as he policed the breakdown harshly.

It took a brilliant backline try, created by Beale and finished  by Digby Ioane, in the 65th minute off a scrum to break the scrappy  game open.

It gave the Wallabies a 22-12 lead and when fullback Harris  slotted his seventh goal from eight attempts soon after Australia  had a 13-point advantage and the game in the bag.It ensured they finished the tournament equal on 12 points with  South Africa but ahead due to their superior amount of wins, and  could also see them climb back into second on the IRB world  rankings.

With a third Bledisloe Test against unbeaten New Zealand just a  fortnight away in Brisbane and then the Spring Tour just another  two weeks later, the gritty victory guarantees Deans at least five  more Tests in charge.

Missing more than half of his best team through injury, the  coach rated the backs-to-the-wall win right up among the most  satisfying.

''I'm proud of the group,'' he said. ''I think tonight was evidence  of the meaning to this group and obviously we've experienced a fair  amount of adversity but we'll get the benefit of this time.

''One of our focal points was not to let the crowd in, and  particularly early.

''They silenced the crowd early (leading 15-6) and they didn't  allow (the Pumas) to get a leg-up.

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''This is a fantastic experience for these blokes ... it was  genuine old-school.''

The Wallabies also had to overcome the early loss of lock Kane  Douglas (head knock) but Scott Higginbotham came off the bench and  starred along with fellow flanker Michael Hooper, who made one 60m  pressure-relieving break in the second half.

Harris finished with 20 points, only missing at goal when a  green laser was flashed on him and the ball as he lined up the kick  in the 56th minute.

Both he and Deans played down the controversy and were at pains  not to allow it to detract from the victory and their week in  Rosario.

- AAP

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