Reece Hodge missed a late chance to seal the game for Australia

Credit: AFP

Argentina 15 Australia 15 

Argentina backed up their historic victory over New Zealand with a battling draw against Australia in Newcastle, keeping alive their prospects of winning the Tri Nations.

A week after defeating the All Blacks, the Pumas were once more indebted to dogged defence. Again, fly-half Nicolas Sanchez recorded all of their points.

He kicked five penalties over a try-less encounter to match opposite number Reece Hodge, who missed a late chance to seal the game for Australia.

Understandably, given their exploits the previous weekend, Argentina looked slightly subdued in the early exchanges. Their lineout malfunctioned during a fractured first half, allowing the Wallabies to dominate territory build pressure.

Although the Pumas stayed in touch, with Sanchez levelling the game at 6-6 in the 32nd minute, they needed an epic try-line stand on the stroke of half-time to hold out their opponents.

Argentina's plucky defence helped them out against Australia

Credit: Shutterstock

Hodge’s third successful strike sent Australia into the changing rooms 9-6 ahead, an advantage that he stretched to 15-6 with two more penalties in the second period.

Despite having to endure 10 minutes down to 14 men due to Julian Montoya’s yellow card, Argentina held on and hauled themselves back into a scrappy contest.

Captain Pablo Matera produced another totemic, all-action performance and Sanchez tied things up with three strikes from the tee.

Hodge had a long-range opportunity with minutes to go but it was Argentina, thanks to their skipper’s kick ahead, that ended the match in the ascendancy.

Matera thanked the Pumas supporters at the McDonald Jones Stadium – “gracias, muchachos” – before insisting that his side had believed in themselves throughout.

“We trust in ourselves,” said Matera, who then presented his match shirt to a young fan.

“They were nine points ahead but we still trusted our system. It was not our best performance but a good effort from the team.”

Two games remain in the Tri Nations, with Argentina facing New Zealand and then the Wallabies on successive weekends. Currently, all three teams are locked on six points.

The Pumas’ best-ever finish in the Rugby Championship, which usually comprises four teams including South Africa, is their third-place result in 2015.  

Australia captain Michael Hooper suggested that Argentina would be difficult to break down over the next fortnight.

“We tried to punch it through them,” said the back-rower. But they did well to hold the ball up.

“They hold you up high, slow it up and get men in the defensive line. We put some kicks in behind but were unable to crack them tonight.”