Australia came from 13 points down to edge a spirited Argentina 23-19 in a Rugby Championship clash yesterday, leaving the Pumas still searching for their opening tournament victory.
After consecutive defeats to world champions New Zealand, the Wallabies have fought back to win two out of two, having beaten the Springboks last week, handing under-pressure coach Robbie Deans more breathing space.
“Credit to them, they really put us under a lot of pressure at 19-6, but there is a great deal of courage and commitment to come back ... and finish so strongly,” Australia skipper Nathan Sharpe said in a pitchside interview.
Argentina remain winless after losing to the All Blacks last weekend, following a draw in Mendoza, Argentina, with South Africa and a defeat in Cape Town, South Africa.
Trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Wallabies found themselves further behind after two Argentine tries within 12 minutes of the second half starting.
The Pumas crossed for the first try of the match in the 50th minute through Tomas Leonardi and then followed up with another two minutes later from Julio Farias Cabello. However, Argentina failed to convert either one, although in the 58th minute they added three more points from a penalty goal to lead by 13.
The flurry of attacking forays by the visitors finally sparked the Wallabies to life and after a number of phases, a hard-running Pat McCabe crossed to get them back within six points with 20 minutes to go.
The Gold Coast crowd did not have to wait long for a second try after scrum-half Nick Phipps spotted a gap on the blindside and released Digby Ioane.
Berrick Barnes added the extras and Australia went further ahead in the 79th minute when substitute Kurtley Beale slotted a long-range penalty goal from close to the sideline.
It set up a tense finish, but some solid defending saw the Wallabies hang on.
Australia dominated possession in the first half, but failed to capitalize despite a number of attacking moves.
The Pumas took just three minutes to register their first points on Australian soil since 2003 when flyhalf Juan Martin Fernandez converted a penalty goal attempt. In contrast, Barnes’ recent goalkicking form deserted him as he missed his first two three-point attempts.
He finally got the home side on the board after 26 minutes with a penalty.
His success came just minutes after Radike Samo crossed in the corner, only for the referee to disallow the try for dropping the ball.
The level-pegging didn’t last long with the Pumas awarded another penalty, which Fernandez converted to extend their lead back to three points, which they took into halftime.