Argentina fight back to earn draw against Australia
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By Nick Mulvenney
NEWCASTLE, Australia - Argentina continued their remarkable Tri-Nations campaign on Saturday, backing up their maiden victory over New Zealand last week with a hard-fought 15-15 draw against Australia on Saturday.
Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and his Australian counterpart Reece Hodge both kicked five penalties apiece to leave the three teams tied on points at the top of the competition standings.
The Pumas stunned the rugby world with last week's victory in 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 we were really disciplined."
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 up the scores.
"I missed one, and maybe with that we could have won but it was a complicated match," said Sanchez.
Hodge missed a penalty two minutes from time which would have secured the win for the Wallabies, as he did with a longer-range late effort in the 16-16 draw with New Zealand in Australia's first test of the year.
Dave Rennie's young side, who also beat New Zealand in their last outing, 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.
"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," said Australia captain Michael Hooper.
"We were unable to crack them tonight."
Argentina face the All Blacks again next week before the last match of the tournament against the Wallabies in early December.