NEWCASTLE, Australia: Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez scored all of Argentinas points for the second successive test and the Pumas’ remarkable Tri Nations continued with a 15-all draw against Australia at Newcastle on Saturday.
A week after scoring all of Argentinas 25 points in its maiden test victory over New Zealand, Sanchez kicked three penalties, including two from the halfway line in the rain, to earn the Pumas what looked an improbable draw after it was 15-6 down inside the last 15 minutes.
Reece Hodge kicked five penalties for Australia but missed a shot in the final minutes which would have won the match for the Wallabies and given it control of the Tri Nations.
Instead, both Australia and Argentina join New Zealand on six points in the standings, with the All Blacks retaining the lead on points differential. Argentina still has two matches remaining, keeping its hopes of a first Tri Nations title very much alive.
In a tight first-half, chances for the Wallabies proved elusive as Argentinas defensive pressure caused Australia to relinquish possession too regularly to build pressure on the Pumas.
Hodge opened the scoring with a fourth-minute penalty goal before Argentina responded with two penalties of its own through last weeks hero against New Zealand, Sanchez.
Australia thought it had the opening try of the match when a clever grubber kick by Hunter Paisami was acrobatically grounded in the in-goal area by Jordan Petaia, but the television referee found that the Wallabies center had his foot on the line as he placed the ball down.
Australia continued to have the better of territory and possession and turned the dominance into points through two more Hodge penalty goals to take a 9-6 lead into the break.
Australia stretched its lead to 15-6 with another two Hodge penalties, and with Argentina hooker Julian Montoya yellow carded for a ruck infringement it appeared the Wallabies would break open the contest through its impressive center pairing of Paisami and Petaia.
But the advantage never materialized and Argentina found a way back through three successive penalties from Sanchez as momentum swung quickly, to the delight of a small but vocal contingent of Argentine supporters.
Hodge had the chance to win it for the Wallabies but his 78th-minute penalty shot sailed to the right of the post and continued the Wallabies’ dismal record at Newcastle, which includes a shock loss to Scotland in 2012.
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