Having tasted victory and defeat in equal measure in their opening four Rugby Union Championship matches, Australia head into their final two matches needing a minor miracle if they are to overhaul New Zealand at the top of the table.
The Wallabies opened their Four Nations campaign with defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney, and both the playing and coaching staff came in for a lot of criticism in the wake of the 19-27 reverse.
But things went from bad to worse in Auckland in week two, as their rampant hosts made it two wins from two with an emphatic 22-0 victory.
The All Blacks only crossed for one try, but enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession throughout the game, and restricted their opponents to speculative attacking moves while in defence.
Already two wins behind the tournament favourites, and with doubt being cast over Robbie Deans’ ability to coach the side, Australia headed into their clash with South Africa desperate for a win and an improved performance.
Fortunately for Deans, he got both, though the Springboks’ resistance was little to write home about, and it is with little doubt that many reckon New Zealand would have comfortably beaten both sides in action in Perth that day.
But the Wallabies bandwagon was up and running but, though victory over Argentina soon followed, Deans’ men were far from convincing against a side making their debut at the tournament.
The win was enough to lift Australia in to second, though, with trips to South Africa and South America still to come, it will take further improvement from the tournament’s under-achievers if they are to salvage any sort of pride from this latest international campaign.
The trip to Rosario on the final day could prove particularly tough, as the Pumas will undoubtedly see the clash as their best opportunity to record a first win in this elite international rugby tournament.
Anything less than a complete performance from the Aussies could see the side slip to an embarrassing Championship rugby defeat.