VIDEO: Pumas come from behind to remain unbeaten
TRI-NATIONS MATCH REPORT: Argentina came from nine points down to earn a 15-all draw with Australia and remain unbeaten.
It leaves all three teams – New Zealand, Argentina and Australia – level on six points, with two rounds remaining.
In a brutal arm-wrestle neither team managed to score any tries – with the boots of Reece Hodge and Nicolas Sanchez responsible for all the points.
Hodge had a chance to win it for Australia three minutes from time, but his crucial kicked drifted wide in a rare moment of failure in an otherwise great performance.
Australia dominated possession (having almost 70 percent of the ball) and territory in the first half, but only held a slender three-point (9-6) lead at the break.
A combination of Argentinean resilience and Australian errors kept the game close.
The other significant statistic from the opening 40 minutes is that Los Pumas, who hardly missed a tackle against New Zealand last week, slipped five tackles.
The Wallabies continued to dominate the possession and territory game after the break, but their discipline slipped in the final quarter – allowing Los Pumas to salvage a draw and remain unbeaten after four rounds.
The Los Pumas defence was far better after the break, missing only two more tackles. In contrast the Wallabies’ tackle stats showed a shocking surge – as they missed eight tackles.
* How it happened. To recap the LIVE drama, CLICK HERE!
After a patient start by the Wallabies, in which they took the ball through multiple phases, Argentina was penalised at the breakdown. Reece Hodge slotted the kick from right in front to make it 3-0 after four minutes.
From the restart hooker Julian Montoya won his team a penalty and Nichols Sanchez tied up the scores at 3-all.
Australia continued to play the territory game very well and piled on the pressure inside the Pumas 22. Jordan Petaia though he had scored, but the TMO review found he had stepped on the dead-ball line before grounding the ball.
The Wallabies continued to dominate possession and territory, with the Aussies giving up the opportunity to kick at goal and setting up line-outs inside the South Americans’ 22. Twice they came up short, knocking on the ball.
Despite continuing to dominate possession and territory, the Wallabies failed to cracked the resilient Los Pumas. Three penalties in quick succession, as frustration started to build, Sanchez put the South Americans into the lead for the first time – 6-3, just past the half-hour mark.
A breakdown penalty gave Hodge a shot at goal and he faded it back beautifully to level the scores – 6-all after 35 minutes.
Soon afterwards a minor scuffle near the Los Pumas 22 resulted in a penalty being turned around and awarded to the Aussies. The Wallabies set up another line-out, 10 metres out from the line. From a scrappy maul the ball went wide and Marika Koroibete went over in the left corner, but was called back for a forward pass.
The referee had played advantage, allowed the Aussies to set up[ another maul – this time just five metres out. That became another penalty to the Wallabies. Hodge slotted the kick to give Australia a 9-6 lead at the half-time break.
Four minutes into the second half Argentinean hooker Julian Montoya was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements. Hodge made it a six-point game – 12-6.
Almost from the restart Australia was penalised at a tackle, but Sanchez hooked past the left upright – just as the rain started falling.
The tempers started to become frayed and a scuffle resulted in an Australian penalty being turned around and awarded to Argentina.
A foul-play penalty to Australia near the Argentinean posts saw Hodge made it a nine-point (15-6) game.
Two scrum penalties in quick succession allowed Sanchez to narrow the gap to six points – 9-15. That became 12-15 (after a breakdown penalty 12 minutes from time) and Sanchez levelled it up at 15-all (from an offside penalty) on the 70-minute mark.
The next penalty went Australia’s way, but Hodge – from 40 metres on the angle – pushed it wide to the right.
Both teams launched desperate raids, but neither managed to find the winning score – leaving the game deadlocked.
Man of the match: Jordan Petaia had his moments, as did Tom Wright . Captain Michael Hooper topped his team’s tackle stats. However, Rob Simmons was Australia’s most productive forward by some distance – with some strong carries and almost matching his captain in the defence column. Flyhalf Reece Hodge showed impressive game management to go with his monster boot – although that one crucial miss probably robbed him of the award. Gomez Kodela and Santiago Carreras also had moments of lighting up the stage in Newcastle, while forwards Pablo Matera, Rodrigo Bruni and Facundo Isa put their bodies on the line. Our award goes to Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who again showed his astute game management and kicked three crucial penalties to earn his team a draw.
Moment of the match: The yellow card to hooker Julian Montoya just after half-time had the potential to cost his team dearly. However, the Reece Hodge missed goal-kick three minutes from time turned out to have the biggest influence on the final score.
Villain: Nothing really nasty, apart from the usual niggle. In such a close game there was always going to be some handbags. Even the match officials were acceptable.
Pens: Sanchez 5
Pens: Hodge 5
Yellow card: Julian Montoya (Argentina, 44 – repeated infringements, offside)
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Emiliano Boffelli, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Wallabies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Valetini, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Noah Lolesio, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, Angus Gardner
TMO: Nic Berry