NEWCASTLE (Australia) • Argentina continued their remarkable Tri-Nations campaign yesterday, backing up their maiden victory over New Zealand last week with a hard-fought 15-15 draw against Australia.
Pumas fly-half Nicolas Sanchez and his Wallabies counterpart Reece Hodge both kicked five penalties apiece to leave the three teams tied on points at the top of the competition standings.
The visitors stunned the rugby world with last week's victory over the All Blacks in what was their first Test for more than a year and once again showed their remarkable durability and spirit as they cut down a nine-point deficit in the last 16 minutes.
"Not good enough but good," said Argentina skipper Pablo Matera. "They were nine points ahead but we trusted our systems. Not our best performance, but we defended really well and were really disciplined."
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma also claimed it was a sign of how much his side have improved that they could have pushed for a win if not for player fatigue.
"We weren't clinical and we didn't have the shape so the boys are disappointed with their game," he added.
"They just don't realise how hard it is to play the All Blacks, with all that emotion and everything, and then play against a fresh Australia team who had a week off and enjoyed 70 per cent of possession."
Sanchez, who scored all of Argentina's points in their 25-15 win over New Zealand last week, was again the Pumas' hero, sending two booming kicks over from near the halfway line to level the scores.
"I missed one, and maybe with that we could have won but it was a complicated match," he said.
Hodge missed a penalty two minutes from time which would have secured the win for the Wallabies and Dave Rennie's side were left frustrated after failing to gain the rewards for their territorial dominance and not closing out the match with better game management in the last 20 minutes.
"Disappointed. With the possession and field position we had, we should have been more accurate," said Australia captain Michael Hooper. "Really pleased with some aspects of the game but disappointed with some penalties in the back end.
"We tried to play with a lot of territory and I think we won that. Probably just a bit of indiscipline at the end and Sanchez made us pay. We were unable to crack them tonight."
Argentina face the All Blacks in Newcastle on Saturday before the last match of the tournament against the Wallabies on Dec 5.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS