The Wallabies staged an impressive comeback to earn a 41-26 win over Argentina in Mendoza.
Dave Rennie’s men were stunned early on when Pablo Matera and the Pumas struck first, taking an early 10-3 lead.
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A penalty try and yellow card to lock out Matías Alemanno in the second half was the turning point as the visitors took the lead thanks to dominating performances from man of the match Rob Valetini and Folau Fainga’a.
Len Ikitau’s late try helped seal the bonus point and victory for the Wallabies, although it came at a cost with the loss of Quade Cooper to a suspected lower leg injury.
Cooper was arguably the best for the Wallabies in the first half as Pablo Matera opened the scoring for the Pumas in the fifth minute.
The returning fly-half made his mark instantly by netting a penalty, before Emiliano Boffelli hit back with two of his own.
Needing an answer, Cooper invented a piece of magic, drawing in defenders before finding Jordan Petaia as the winger dipped over the line to reduce the margin.
Dave Rennie’s men continued to attack, but a lack of execution and a mounting penalty snuffed out their opportunities.
Cooper continued his strong first half as he crossed the line, before a loose pass broke them.
Five minutes later, the Japan-based flyhalf took a step and closed in, however, a trademark flick hit James Slipper in the head and caused the roll.
It allowed Boffelli to add his third penalty of the night as they fed on a heavy crowd in Mendoza.
Great work from Darcy Swain at the rolling maul ended a threatening Los Pumas attack, before Boffelli’s fourth gave the hosts a 19-10 lead at the break.
Needing a spark, a thrilling exchange between Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia nearly produced a try, before they were stung by the loss of Cooper.
Injury failed to stop their momentum as Fraser McReight stepped in in Michael Hooper’s absence to dive over the line.
With the visitors on the attack, Argentina produced a thrilling counterattack to open the game, with Juan Martín González Samso finishing in the corner.
They finally got the chance they deserved when the attackers combined for a penalty try from the rolling maul.
Lock Matías Alemanno was shown a yellow card as a result, Reece Hodge’s long boot putting the Wallabies ahead for the first time in the game.
With the hosts still a man down, Folau Fainga’a capped off his strong performance with a trademark try from the rolling maul to push the lead past a converted try.
He put together a remarkable finish with a result well and truly secured as both teams sought a bonus point; Argentina drop a point and a bonus three tries for the Wallabies.
Both teams decided to throw the ball at will with gassed players as Nick Frost won the race one way or another, before Hunter Paisami and Len Ikitau connected to cap off an incredible win.
“I thought we were a lot more clinical (in the second half), we applied a lot more pressure…really happy with how we finished,” coach Dave Rennie said after the game.
“We fought to do it consistently against the English so it’s a start but we have more in us but we’re really happy with the character, we had some late changes and lost a key guy in the game.
“That’s the thing with this group, there’s a lot of character and grit and they stood up.”
TRIALS: Petaia, McReight, penalty try, Fainga’a, Ikitau
CONS: Cooper 1/1, Hodge 3/3
PENS: Cooper 1/1, Hodge 1/1
TESTS: Matera, González Samso
AGAINST: Boffelli 2/2
PENS: Boffelli 4/5
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallía, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martín González Samso, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Thomas Gallo, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazán Vélez, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Moroni.
Australia:15 Tom Wright, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (captain)
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Pete Samu, 22 Jake Gordon, 23 Reece Hodge.
Arbitrator: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO:Marius van der Westhuizen [South Africa]