Australia and Argentina drew on Saturday for the second time in two Tri-Nations tests, finishing deadlocked at 16-16 after Wallabies fullback Reece Hodge missed a potential match-winning penalty for the third time this season.
As he did in the 15-15 draw between the sides earlier in the competition, Hodge sent his kick wide to deprive Australia of what would have been a remarkable comeback victory after losing replacement Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to a red card on the hour mark.
A hard-fought battle played out on a rain-sodden pitch featured three yellow cards as well as the red with Australia’s attempts to convert territorial dominance into points foundering on the steel curtain of the Pumas defence.
With neither side able to secure a bonus point victory, let alone the huge winning margins they needed, New Zealand won the tournament, which replaced the Rugby Championship after the withdrawal of world champions South Africa.
“They’re a tough cookie to crack, the Argies,” said Australia captain Michael Hooper.
“We’ll build from that, we’re not happy with that performance. We weren’t able to get a win in our last game.”
Argentina’s rollercoaster ride of a tournament hit a low this week when historical racist social media posts were unearthed, costing the Pumas the services of their inspirational captain Pablo Matera and two other players for the match.
They appeared to have brushed aside the tumultuous events of the week, however, and looked on course to round out their campaign with a victory when a 34th minute Bautista Delguy try helped them to a 13-6 halftime lead.
The Pumas trundled a rolling maul for 40 metres before scrumhalf Felipe Ezcurra broke into open field and got the ball away to Delguy for the winger to weave his way to the line.