Wallabies must turn strong second-half into unbeaten tour - Growden

The Wallabies at last remembered how to win a Test match, but they remain a frustrating bits-and-pieces, up-and-down outfit.

After numerous Tests where the Wallabies have floundered in the second half, to lose matches they should have won or suffer infuriating draws, against Argentina in Canberra on Saturday night they enjoyed the benefits that occur when momentum and performance improves the longer the match goes on.

Australia's second-half effort, tallying 35 points including three tries in the last nine minutes, was of a high enough standard to be able to dream they have the potential of one day providing a satisfying Test performance.

But the leveller is that Australia's first half effort was right up there among their worst in recent times. Their thought process was dreadful. There was no rhyme, reason or accuracy to their midfield kicking. Possession was wasted when they weren't under pressure, while the cleanout work at the breakdown was sometimes non-existent. They had no counter to the standout player on the field- Argentina No 8 Tomas Lezana. The Wallabies seemed bewildered, and were lucky to be just three points behind the Pumas at the break.

The only Wallaby highlight of the first half was when their No 8 Sean McMahon dropped the F-bomb during a live television interview during the halftime break. Little wonder when a television crew crossed to Wallabies coach Michael Cheika just after the break, he was clearly bewildered by what he had just witnessed.

"There's no urgency. I'm not sure if we realise we're playing in a Test match," Cheika said.

The small crowd must have been wondering as well. Considering the lack of atmosphere, it felt more like a lower-grade social game than a supposedly important Rugby Championship fixture.

Cheika opted against giving his team one of his customary halftime blasts, or start attacking them with a set of golf clubs. Instead it was all up to the players to get themselves out of this mess. Luckily for Cheika they did. As McMahon's work-rate and captain Michael Hooper's impact, especially in defence, peaked in the second half, Australia at last became 'urgent.' This coincided with the Pumas losing their way.

The Wallabies seized the moment, and with fullback Israel Folau providing good attacking thrust, winger Reece Hodge the enthusiasm and centre Kurtley Beale an edge out wide, particularly when he gave up kicking everything in the wrong direction, they looked a completely different team, and not surprisingly finished well ahead of their opponents.

So, some sort of relief, and a growing belief that when they produce 80 minutes of football up to the standard of the second half, rather than their current trend of reasonably good minutes of play here and there interspersed with absolute rubbish, they may beat someone of substance.

The chance to prove they are at last headed in the right direction is now upon them. The Wallabies are about to embark of a tough road trip, heading to Bloemfontein and Mendoza for the final two Rugby Championship rounds. This involves a demanding travel schedule, tricky venues and inevitable ambushes. But the Wallabies can at least gain some faith from referring to recent Test triumphs in both cities.

Bloemfontein is a harsh, tough city, and the Wallabies will confront the most antagonistic of South African Test teams, aiming to regain pride after the most humiliating of evenings when mashed 57-0 by the All Blacks in Albany. Bloemfontein is the city where one of Australian Rugby's most special performances was produced when in 2010, they became the first Wallabies line-up to win on the South African high veldt in 47 years. It did require an 80th minute penalty goal by Beale to achieve the 41-39 victory, but this was a Test where the Wallabies fighting qualities were on show.

Then to the foot of the Andes, where amidst the Beale/Ewen McKenzie/Di Patston brouhaha the Wallabies lost in 2014, but regained their composure the following year when in Cheika's sixth Test as Australian coach they conclusively swept aside Argentina 34-9 at one of the Pumas favourite venues.

So, there is really nothing stopping Australia from winning both of those Tests. Anything less than two out of two would be unacceptable.