Argentina picked up their first ever Rugby Championship win with a 21-17 victory over the Wallabies in Mendoza on Saturday, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
It may have taken them 18 attempts and three years, but they're off the mark. Their record now reads 1-1-16, with a draw against South Africa at the same ground in 2011 the closest they had come prior to this.
Few could deny that this was a deserved victory, as they bossed the world's third-ranked side for much of the 80 minutes. For Australia, it was a poor end to a poor Championship. They came into the tournament on a high after the Waratahs' Super Rugby success, but left with their tail between their legs as they were outmuscled up front and starved of the ball for much of the match against a hungrier Pumas team.
They surrendered a half-time lead – a lead they'd built on the back of just 25% possession – and were only kept in the match by Argentina's lack of cutting edge.
It started well enough for the visitors, with Tevita Kuridrani coasting over for the first try after just three minutes. Things got even better for Ewen McKenzie's team when Scott Higginbotham went over under the posts to open up a 14-point lead after just 15 minutes.
The score was hardly reflective on proceedings, though, with the Wallabies' struggles at the breakdown resulting in numerous penalties awarded by referee Nigel Owens.
Argentina would get their try, and it would be the impressive Leonardo Senatore who would go over, before a late Nicolás Sánchez penalty meant the sides headed in with the hosts trailing 14-8.
The second half started as the first had ended, with the Argentinians on the front foot. Owens' patience ran out with the offending Wallabies and Nick Phipps was sent to the bin following yet another ruck infringement.
Sánchez and Bernard Foley traded penalties before Juan Imhoff went over in the corner to give the Pumas the lead for the first time.
Foley then missed two penalties before Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was harshly awarded a yellow card while attempting to charge down a Nicolás Sánchez kick. The Pumas flyhalf added the three points, meaning the 14-man Wallabies would have to score a try to win the match.
There would be no fairytale for the Australians and the match was appropriately concluded after the Argentinians won a penalty at scrum time. Sánchez put the ball into touch to seal Argentina's first win over Australia in 17 years, and first ever in the Rugby Championship.
Argentina – Tries: Leonardo Senatore, Juan Imhoff. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalties: Sánchez (3).
Wallabies – Tries: Tevita Kuridrani, Scott Higginbotham. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalty: Foley.
Argentina – 15 Joacquin Tuculet, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Horacio Agulla, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Benjamín Macome, 6 Rodrigo Baez, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Subs: 16 Matías Cortese, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Marcelo Bosch, 23 Jerónimo De la Fuente.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 James Horwill, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Matt Hodgson, 22 Nic White, 23 Rob Horne.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images