Argentina 21 Australia 17
Argentina ended their search for a victory in the Rugby Championship at the 18th attempt, defeating Australia 21-17 in Mendoza.
Things did not look good for the Pumas when they trailed 14-0 in the early stages – but they showed commendable spirit to add to Australia’s troubles.
The Wallabies went into the game amid reports of a rift between players and management.
Playmaker Kurtley Beale was omitted from Australia’s matchday 23 following an argument with Di Patston – a member of the management team – and an undisciplined performance by Australia did little to raise the mood.
The Wallabies conceded numerous penalties and had Nick Phipps and captain Michael Hooper sin-binned – after making an encouraging start.
Following dropped ball by the Pumas in Australia’s half, the Wallabies broke and Tevita Kuridrani crossed for a fourth-minute try which Bernard Foley converted.
The second try came in the 13th minute from Scott Higginbotham, Foley again adding the extras to stretch the visitors’ advantage to 14-0.
However, Leandro Senatore got Argentina on the board in the 35th minute after the ball had been worked wide and although Nicolas Sanchez missed the conversion attempt, he did kick a penalty just before the turnaround to reduce the deficit to 14-8.
That gap was trimmed further within three minutes of the restart by a Sanchez penalty – and Australia were further frustrated when Kuridrani crossed the whitewash but saw his hopes of a try ruled out by the TMO.
A Foley penalty in the 48th minute gave Australia a 17-11 lead but less than five minutes later Juan Imhoff crossed and when Sanchez converted the Pumas had the lead.
There was controversy with 10 minutes remaining when Foley struck an upright with a kickable penalty, although his cause was not helped by a laser pen aimed at his face as he teed up the attempt.
And their hopes were dented further in the 74th minute when Hooper was sin-binned after conceding a penalty, which Sanchez kicked to make it 21-17.
A man down, the Wallabies were unable to find the try they needed in the closing stages and the final whistle signalled joyous scenes as the hosts celebrated their first win in the competition in their third campaign.
The Pumas’ first win over Australia since 1997 also ended an eight-match losing streak, stretching back almost a year to when they defeated Italy.