Gold Coast – Andrew Kellaway scored a hat-trick as Australia made it four wins in a row with a comprehensive 32-17 victory over Argentina on Saturday in the Rugby Championship.
The winger has now crossed for seven tries since his international debut against New Zealand earlier this year and the Wallabies can head on their European tour full of confidence.
The hosts led 32-3 midway through the second half on the Gold Coast and despite a late surge by the Pumas, they were always in control.
Argentina, who went into the match on the back of five consecutive losses in the Rugby Championship, endured rocky preparations after six players and two officials broke coronavirus regulations and were barred from playing.
Australian captain Michael Hooper said that while he was pleased with the win, he was disappointed to let Argentina in for two late tries.
"It was a good game, we created a lot of opportunities, but it was just sloppy at the end," he said.
"We were sloppy with our discipline and that's something we wanted to be good at tonight.
"I think for parts we were really, really good and hurt them quite easily at times and built some good pressure.
"But we just kept letting them in the game."
The Pumas were missing key forwards Pablo Matera and prop Santiago Medrano after they were among those who broke Australian coronavirus travel rules, and they proved major losses at scrum time.
The Wallabies had the Argentine scrum under enormous pressure from the outset, winning a string of penalties as the Pumas' scrum collapsed.
Australian fly-half Quade Cooper opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty from a scrum infringement, but the Wallabies had to wait another 22 minutes before the possession and territory they were enjoying finally told.
Pumas lock Tomas Lavanini was shown a yellow card for a dangerous challenge in the line-out and in his absence hooker Folau Fainga'a and Kellaway crossed to give the Wallabies a commanding 15-0 lead.
The Argentines fought back and camped on the Australian line for the last five minutes of the first half, but some superb Wallaby defence kept them out, their only reward a penalty to Emiliano Boffelli right on halftime.
'They need rest'
The first 20 minutes of the second half was all Australia as they ran amok, especially in the backline.
A composed Cooper began to pull the strings, putting the men outside him into space on a number of occasions.
Inside centre Samu Kerevi crossed just after the restart before Kellaway touched down twice more, both on the end of slick backline moves.
Cooper was having an off-night with the boot but the Wallabies were in complete control and led 32-3 with 20 minutes remaining.
Australia coach Dave Rennie made wholesale changes and the Pumas took advantage of some resulting sloppy play with two tries to replacement prop Thomas Gallo.
"It's been really consistent, the mistakes we've been making," Pumas coach Mario Ledesma said.
"Discipline, our set pieces, especially our scrum, not scoring when we have opportunities."
Ledesma said his side had shown character to fight back after conceding three second-half tries, especially as the Pumas have been on the road since July.
"They've been playing for 12 months now," he said, pointing out the players had come straight from their club seasons into the Pumas camp.
"It's not the best way to prepare," he said. "They need rest."