Australia flanker Michael Hooper has been cited for allegedly striking Argentina fly-half Nicolas Sanchez during a Rugby Championship match in Mendoza this weekend.
The disciplinary move follows a 59th-minute incident at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas Saturday in which the 23-year-old Wallabies forward appears to strike the Pumas playmaker.
Hooper came off the bench in a game won 34-9 by Australia and another Wallaby, replacement back Quade Cooper, was sin-binned for a late, high tackle 14 minutes from time.
— TheRugbyPaper (@TheRugbyPaper) July 27, 2015
Capped 43 times by Australia since his 2012 debut, Hooper has scored seven Test tries and contests the openside loose forward position in the national team with David Pocock.
Australia host title-holders New Zealand on August 8 in the Championship decider after both teams defeated South Africa narrowly and Argentina convincingly.
The southern hemisphere championship has been reduced to a single round this year because the Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 18 in England.
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Australia coach Michael Cheika says his side are ready to take on the best in the world when they face the All Blacks with Rugby Championship glory on the line.
Two late tries for the Wallabies earned them a bonus-point 34-9 second-round victory over a disappointing Argentina in the western city of Mendoza on Saturday night. The result left the Wallabies and the All Blacks level on nine points ahead of an August 8 Championship decider in Sydney.
— Wallabies (@Wallabies) July 26, 2015
“It is a little closer this year,” the 2014 Super 15-winning coach said, referring to the southern hemisphere rugby pecking order.
“But look at what the All Blacks did in Johannesburg this weekend – I think they beat South Africa pretty easily in the end.
“New Zealand are the best team in the world by a long way at this stage. It is going to be a big challenge playing them in Sydney because they are such a good side.
“We have got to work really hard over the next couple of weeks, plan thoroughly and ensure we run out at ANZ Stadium ready to make Australian rugby supporters proud.
“I cannot predict how the game will go, but I know that we will be ready to show our pride.”
Wallabies skipper and hooker Stephen Moore echoed the views of his coach.
“It is going to be a massive game at our ground in Sydney and we are really looking forward to facing the All Blacks,” he said. “They are a quality side for sure, but we have two weeks to study them and prepare a strategy.”
Australia put a shock loss to Argentina in Mendoza last year behind them by scoring four tries for an ultimately comfortable victory after leading 8-6 at half-time.
A try midway through the second half by recalled lock Dean Mumm after an undetected forward pass put the match beyond the Pumas and centre Tevita Kuridrani and winger Adam Ashley-Cooper claimed the late tries.
“It is always difficult to come over here and win so we are happy,” said recently appointed skipper Moore. “After slipping up in Mendoza last year, this was very good and I am proud of the performance.”
Bottom of the table with no points and only two tries from two Championship outings, Argentina are away to third-place South Africa in the final round.
Skipper Richie McCaw marked his 140th appearance for New Zealand with a smart try six minutes from time that delivered a 27-20 victory over arch-foes South Africa on Saturday.
The All Blacks flanker won a line-out close to the Springboks line in a planned manouevre and brushed off the challenge of scrum-half Ruan Pienaar to score in a Rugby Championship Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
Debutant fly-half Lima Sopoaga converted and kicked a last-minute penalty to seal a sixth New Zealand triumph in their last seven clashes with South Africa.
For the Springboks, the game was a carbon copy of the loss last weekend in Australia as they once again led for most of the 80 minutes only to concede a late try.
South Africa were left ruing a 10-minute second-half spell when they had a numerical advantage after replacement lock Sam Whitelock was sin-binned, but failed to score.
An absorbing clash between the world number one-ranked All Blacks and second-ranked Springboks indicated why they are among the favourites to win the Rugby World Cup in England from mid-September.
New Zealand are famed for scoring late in the opening half and they did it again to leave the teams level at 10-10 after 40 exciting, fast-paced minutes on a chilly evening.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 25, 2015
A turnover, a clever inside pass from centre Ma’a Nonu, and a break by Sopoaga set up right winger Ben Smith to score after 40 minutes.
Sopoaga, who opened the scoring with a close-range third-minute penalty awarded for a Springbok going off his feet at a ruck, converted.
The first-half highlight for South Africa came on 10 minutes when a turnover triggered a try by full-back Willie le Roux.
Hooker Bismarck du Plessis caught slow-reacting All Blacks No. 8 Kieran Read in possession, South Africa stole the ball and an inside pass from centre Jesse Kriel allowed Le Roux to dot down.
Fly-half Handre Pollard converted for a four-point advantage that stretched to seven when he slotted a penalty after New Zealand flanker Liam Messam high-tackled Kriel.
Both teams had cause for satisfaction after the first half, with the Springboks solid in the scrums, combative at the breakdowns and strong in defence.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 25, 2015
New Zealand took the lone first-half line-out steal and the world champions always threatened with the ball in hand.
South Africa regained the lead seven minutes into the second half as Kriel burst between vastly-experienced centres Nonu and Conrad Smith to score a try that Pollard converted.
But the lead lasted just three minutes before New Zealand hooker Dane.Coles scored a similar try, displaying the power of a forward and pace of a back to go over and Sopoaga converted.
Another Pollard penalty restored the lead for South Africa, and they stayed 20-17 ahead until McCaw struck the decisive blow before a sell-out 63,000 crowd.
Title-holders New Zealand top the Championship table with nine points, Australia have four, South Africa two and Argentina are pointless.
Argentina host Australia late Saturday in Mendoza.