All Blacks win Tri Nations after Wallabies and Pumas play out draw
Sunday, 6 December 2020, 10:57AM
By: Simon Kay
Reece Hodge missed a late match-winning penalty for the third time this season as the Wallabies and Pumas played out a 16-16 draw in miserable conditions at Sydney's Bankwest Stadium last night.
The result confirmed the All Blacks as 2020 Tri Nations champions.
The Wallabies did well to be in a position to win after Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was sent off for a high shot around the hour mark and Argentina took a 16-9 lead.
Skipper Michael Hooper scored from a maul — his 20th test try, a record for an Australian forward — and Hodge's conversion levelled the scores heading into the last 10 minutes
But Hodge's late long-range miss condemned the Wallabies to a third draw this season after a scrappy wet-weather test that also featured three yellow cards.
Hodge gave Australia a 16th-minute 3-0 lead after Marco Kremer was harshly sin-binned for contact to the head.
With that precedent set, Hooper was also sidelined for 10 minutes with a similarly contentious call after half an hour.
The Pumas capitalised, taking the lead with a second penalty and the game's first try. Their pack rumbled the ball forward from a lineout deep in their own half and Felipe Ezcurra broke free to set up wing Bautista Delguy for a well-taken try.
That took the visitors to a 13-3 lead despite the Wallabies enjoying around 70 per cent territory and possession in the first half.
The hosts pressured the Pumas line right on halftime, ultimately settling for a 43rd-minute penalty to close the gap to 13-6 at the break.
Hodge kicked his third penalty for 13-9 but the match turned firmly Argentina's way when Salakaia-Loto was sent off on the hour for a high shot on Santiago Grondona.
Unlike the first-half yellow cards, the dismissal of Salakaia-Loto — on the pitch for just nine minutes — was justified and Argentina went 16-9 ahead from the resultant penalty.
But the Pumas enjoyed a one-man advantage for just six minutes, with Lucas Paulos sin-binned for collapsing a maul. Australian persistence was rewarded with Hooper's try and Hodge's conversion for 16-16, but once again, the Wallabies were unable to break the deadlock.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission