Watch: Michael Cheika lashes out at Wallabies in passionate half-time speech before miracle comeback against Pumas

It was some halftime performance by Australia coach Michael Cheika.

So much so that the Wallabies stunned Argentina with five second-half tries to overcome a 31-7 halftime deficit and beat the Pumas 45-34 in the final match of the Rugby Championship.

Cheika was shown on television broadcasts screaming and pointing fingers menacingly at several players in the dressing room during halftime. Losers of eight of their last 10 tests, Cheika was trying to make sure it wasn't nine of 11.

"He had some pretty firm words there in the second half and, like I said, it was a choice for the players there," Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who scored a first-half try, said of Cheika's halftime rant.

Rugby Australia said it was the biggest comeback involving southern hemisphere teams, improving on the 18 points that South Africa overcame to beat New Zealand in 1998.

It was only Australia's second win of the tournament and allowed the Wallabies to finish in third place instead of last, a spot that they seemed destined for after their woeful first-half performance.

With the loss, Argentina finished in last place for the sixth time in seven years since the four-country tournament was established.

The win, which was likely to take the pressure off the embattled Cheika, should also allow the No. 7 Wallabies to stay ahead of Argentina in the world rankings.

It took Argentina less than two minutes for their first try, through Pablo Matera, and by the fifth minute the Pumas had another to Emiliano Boffelli. Hooper scored his converted try for Australia, but Argentina went to halftime with its 24-point lead after a brilliant solo run and try by substitute flyhalf Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias.

The Wallabies began their amazing comeback just three minutes into the second half with a try to Izack Rodda, followed by those to Israel Folau and Dane Haylett-Petty. They took the lead for the first time — 35-34 — when David Pocock scored with 15 minutes remaining.

The Wallabies increased their lead to 42-34 with 13 minutes left on Haylett-Petty's second try of the night. Flyhalf Bernard Foley converted all six Wallaby tries and kicked a penalty goal to give Australia some breathing room with six minutes left.

"That old cliche, a game of two halves," Hooper told Fox Sports Australia. "We know we have some amazing attack in us and some really good defense to keep them out there for the second half."

Australia and Argentina finished with 2-4 records, but the Wallabies finished with nine competition points to the Pumas' eight thanks to a bonus point for losing by fewer than seven points to Argentina on the Gold Coast in September — 23-19.

New Zealand, which had already clinched the Rugby Championship title with a match to spare, beat second-place South Africa 32-30 earlier.


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