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Hodge misses last-gasp penalty as Australia and Argentina draw

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Australia and Argentina drew 16-16 in the final game of the 2020 Tri-Nations Rugby Championship at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta.

Reece Hodge missed a last-minute penalty for Australia as Argentian held on for a deserved draw in the wet of western Sydney.

It is the third time this season that the Wallabies fullback has missed a late penalty to win the game for his team.

He hit the post in the 84th-minute of the 16-16 draw of opening Bledisloe Cup match against the All Blacks in October at Sky Stadium, Wellington.

Then there was the 78th-minute shot at goal in the previous Test against the Pumas as both Tri-Nations Tests between the teams ended in stalemate after their 15-15 draw in Newcastle back in November.

Argentina finishes second in the 2020 Tri-Nations Rugby Championship because of a better points differential, while Australia takes the ‘Wooden Spoon’ on home soil after another disappointing display.

Bautista Delguy crossed in the first half, while Nicolas Sanchez and Domingo Miotti’s boots put Los Pumas seven points ahead at the half.

Hodge kicked three penalties and converted Micheal Hooper’s record-breaking 20th Test try for a match haul of 11 points; however, he will be kicking himself for again failing to land the knockout blow at the death.

The captain became the first Australian forward to score 20 Test match tries.

Disciplinary problems plague both teams during the tournament, which saw four yellows and a red card in two Tests

Both teams had disciplinary issues. Australian referee Angus Gardner, with the help of fellow Aussie TMO Damon Murphy, showed four cards: three yellows and a red.

Marcos Kremer and Hooper both received yellow cards for dangerous cleanouts at the breakdown.

Lucas Paulos was sent to the naughty step for cynical play and a totting-up of penalties by the South Americans, which led to the Wallabies skipper’s try.

Mr Gardner has clearly had enough, sending off Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on the hour, also for a dangerous hit on Santiago Grondona.

Just as in every game this campaign except in the win against New Zealand, Mario Ledesma’s men fell away in the second period.

They could not capitalise on their extra man; instead, they kicked a penalty but conceded a converted try, and probably should have lost if not for Hodge’s misfortune.

Error-strewn Wallabies control the first half, but mistakes prove costly as Pumas strike before the break

These two sides are evenly matched, it is no surprise that both games ended in draws that saw only two tries scored.

It took 116 minutes before anyone scored a try between the teams, a problem that cost Argentina, who only managed to cross the goal-line twice in four matches.

Both five-pointers were – incidentally – stunning.

Delguy’s sublime score, and the boots of Sanchez and Miotti, gave the visitors a 13-6 lead after a tight, tense first half in western Sydney.

Despite dominating territory (82%) and possession (72%) in the first stanza, but two Hodge penalties were all the home team had to show for their efforts.

The 26-year-old utility back opened the scoring with a 16th-minute penalty after Kremer’s yellow card for a dangerous cleanout on James O’Connor.

Sanchez levelled two minutes later from 52 metres out.

Australia spent most of the half camped inside the Pumas’ 22, several times attacking into double-digit phases, but without success due to multiple handling errors.

Hooper entered the ruck from the side but cleaned out Sanchez with a high shot to the shoulder and neck area.

It was a similar shot to Kremer’s on O’Connor; not malicious, but it is dangerous. Sanchez left the field for an HIA, and on came Miotti.

Hooper’s card – unlike Kremer’s – cost his team 10 points as Argentina kicked a penalty and scored a converted try while the Aussie skipper was off the field.

On the half-hour, the substitute flyhalf took advantage of another mistake and offside by Matt Philip, putting the visitors ahead with the first points not scored by Sanchez in the tournament.

Then came the moment of maravilloso magic

Tri-Nations Rugby Championship Round Six Video Highlights: Australia vs Argentina at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta

Felipe Ezcurra set-up Delguy after a massive 20-metre rolling maul by the Pumas’ pack from inside their 22. The forwards marched their opponents to the 10-metre line before the scrumhalf took charge.

Ezcurra broke down the blindside, turned Marika Koroibete, and drew Hodge before sending Delguy away.

The winger cut inside Koroibete and fended off Hunter Paisami before diving over for the sensational score.

Miotti added the extras before Sanchez returned. Australia managed a penalty three minutes into injury time to cut the deficit to seven at the interval.

Persistent rain causes problems for both teams as the mistakes mounted in the second half

If conditions were bad in the opening 40 minutes, they got exponentially worse in the second. The rain caused the game to disintegrate.

Hodge kicked an early second-half penalty to make it a four-point game.

The rain began to pour down, and both teams struggled. Both played the percentages, kicking when inside their own half, hoping for a mistake by the opposition.

Dave Rennie’s problems with disciplinary issues continued when Salakaia-Loto hit Grondona with a high shot and was sent off.

Miotti re-established his side’s seven-point lead from distance on the hour, but Australia began to find their groove.

Ledesma’s men struggled to contain the Wallaby driving maul. Paulos paid the price with a yellow card after a second cynical foul by the Pumas on their try line.

The South American pack wobbled as the Wallabies turned the screw in the last quarter. The hosts won multiple scrum-penalties, which led to them getting their driving maul going, late in the game.

A series of mauls inside the ‘red zone’ took its toll on the tourists, who conceded three penalties on their line.

It was third times the charm for Rennie’s pack.

They finally drove themselves over the chalk when Hooper, with the help of Taniela Tupou, flopped over the whitewash to give his charges a shot at victory.

It was not to be despite Hodge levelling from out wide with 12 minutes remaining. The fullback, however, could not win the game for his team.

With the clock ticking down, Hodge lined-up another long-distance penalty attempt, and yet again, for the third time this year, he could not split the uprights; instead, shanking his kick well wide.

It was a fitting end to a strange year.

Final score: Australia 16 (6) Argentina 16 (13)

Scorers

Australia
Tries – Hooper
Pen – Hodge (3)
Con – Hodge
Drop –
Cards – Hooper (Yellow, 28′), Salakaia-Loto (red, 60′)

Argentina
Tries – Delguy
Pen – Sanchez, Miotti (2)
Con – Miotti
Drop –
Cards – Kremer (Yellow, 16′), Lucas Paulos (Yellow, 66′)

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner (RA)
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry (RA)
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way (RA)
TMO: Damon Murphy (RA)

Teams

Australia: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Scott Sio

Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Tom Banks

Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (captain), 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Facundo Isa, 6 Santiago Grondona, 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro

Replacements: 16 Jose Luis Gonzalez, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Francisco Gorrissen, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Santiago Chocobares

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