The Wallabies and Argentina couldn’t be split at Bankwest with it ending 16-16 and like in Newcastle a few weeks ago, Reece Hodge had a chance to land the winning penalty goal but was unable to end Dave Rennie’s first year in charge with a win.
The draw made it three for the year and saw Argentina claim second spot on the Tri-nations standings which seemed unlikely after an eventful week to say the least in the Pumas camp. It was an immense defensive effort from the Pumas having to make 100 more tackles than the Wallabies and barely any possession or territory.
On a night where the rain didn’t help either side, the game was dominated by cards being dished out by referee Angus Gardner – 3 yellows including one to Michael Hooper and a red card to Lukhan Salakaia-Loto just 9 minutes into his game for a high shot with 20 minutes to go.
The Wallabies had pretty much all possession and territory in the opening 10 minutes but had nothing to show for it after some determined Argentina defence in their own 22.
With all that pressure, the Pumas started to rack up the penalties in their 22 to give the Wallabies more attacking chances by kicking to touch every time but the Wallabies couldn’t execute with knock ons and dropped ball easily letting Argentina off the hook.
Reece Hodge finally opened the scoring after 15 minutes with a penalty goal after Marcos Kremer was yellow carded for a high clean out on James O’Connor.
Argentina responded just minutes later from a long-range penalty to Nico Sanchez as he continued his run as the only Argentine player to score in the Tri-Nations to chalk up 43 points.
The Wallabies had employed a flat line to their attack with James O’Connor back at 10 but the Argentines were able to adjust their defence and leave their line intact with the Wallabies looking very lateral at times and not allowing room for their attacking threats.
The Wallabies found themselves down to 14 players after 27 minutes after TMO Damon Murphy intervened on a Michael Hooper clean out on Nico Sanchez and Angus Gardner decided it was a yellow card.
Domingo Miotti stepped up in the absence of Sanchez to put Argentina in front 6-3 after 30 minutes with only 20% possession and 10% territory.
Those numbers didn’t seem to matter to them as they went further ahead to a well worked try from long range that started after a Rob Simmons kick to touch deep in Argentina territory (yes, you read that correctly).
They rolled a maul at least 30 metres before Felipe Ezcurra ran through a gap and he found Bautista Delguy who got around Marika Koroibete and palmed off Hunter Paisami for the try and a 13-3 lead.
Right on halftime Reece Hodge landed his second penalty of the night but the Wallabies would be really disappointed to be behind at 13-6 after dominating the opening 10 minutes and making Argentina make a mountain of tackles.
The rain got stronger for the second half and saw both teams head to the box kick for any sort of advantage. Even when the Wallabies did try and run it, they only hit the brick wall of the Argentine defence with Recce Hodge, among others, on the end of a big shot.
Hodge landed his third penalty after 50 minutes after a big scrum from the Wallabies but right off the restart they were under pressure after Paisami knocked on but the Wallabies scrum spared his blushes with Taniela Tupou making an immediate impact after coming on as a repalcement.
Less could be said about Lukhan Salakaia-Loto’s return from injury as he lasted only 9 minutes before being sent off for a high shot after earlier giving away some unnecessary penalties and Miotti punished that infringement with his second penalty to make it a 7-point game.
With a few changes in the Wallabies pack making a real difference, they found themselves deep in Argentina territory on the back of a number of penalties and rolling mauls. Argentina couldn’t stop them legally and lead to another yellow card handed out, this time to Lucas Paulos.
From the resulting lineout, the Wallabies rolling maul was too much to stop for the 7-man pack and Michael Hooper had the try with the assistance of Tupou’s weight getting him over the line – the first one in nearly 150 minutes of play. Hodge’s conversion levelled the scores at 16-16.
With the game winding down the Wallabies edged up the field and had the last chance to win the game with a penalty goal from long range, and again it was Reece Hodge stepping up from 45 metres out but he couldn’t land the winning goal to end it at 16-16.
Score & Scorers
Penalties: Hodge 3
Penalties: Sanchez, Miotti 2
15 mins – Kremer (Argentina) – Yellow
27 mins – Hooper (Australia) – Yellow
59 mins – Salakaia-Loto (Australia) – Red
65 mins – Paulos (Argentina) – Yellow