A “disappointed and frustrated” Australia coach Dave Rennie says his team must do better after blowing a chance to beat a stoic Argentina, complaining his Wallabies players appeared to get bored.
Australia were 15-6 ahead with barely 20 minutes left of their Tri Nations clash in Newcastle, north of Sydney, on Saturday evening, but poor decision-making and ill-discipline allowed the Pumas back into the game.
It ended in a bruising and try-less 15-15 draw, with Rennie not happy.
“Really frustrated. Really disappointed,” he said.
“At 15-6 we had control of the game. We had chances to pin them in the corners. We had a fair bit of success from kicking but it’s like we got bored of it.
“We should have closed that out,” he added.
“We’ve really got ourselves to blame. It’s got to be better right across the board.
“We’ve got to be more clinical and turn pressure into points. Really Argentina never looked like scoring a try all night.”
Australia had all the early possession and should have wrapped up the game in the first half, but two disallowed tries hindered their progress.
They went to the break 9-6 in front and stretched the lead to nine points before they let Argentina back into the game with silly infringements and poor execution.
“If we could have scored straight after half-time, it probably would have blown the game open. They’d made a lot of tackles and we felt they were fatiguing and they were just hanging in there,” said Rennie.
“But we didn’t put them out of it and it hurt us in the end.”
Playmaker Nicolas Sanchez, via his lethal boot, again scored all the Pumas points to take his tally to 40 from two matches. His opposite number Reece Hodge also nailed five penalties.
But Hodge crucially missed the one that mattered, sending what should have been a match-winning kick wide with two minutes remaining.
After their upset of New Zealand last week and the draw on Saturday, Argentina find themselves in prime position to lift the Tri Nations trophy.
All three teams have six points, but the South Americans have a game in hand.
They face a crunch return clash against the All Blacks next weekend before meeting Australia again.
Mario Ledesma’s side came into the match on a high after their first win against New Zealand in 35 years, and while they created few try-scoring opportunities their defence was solid and they grabbed chances when presented.
Ledesma felt a draw was a fair result and praised his men after their draining exploits against the All Blacks.
“We weren’t clinical and we didn’t have a lot of shape, so they’re pretty disappointed in their performance,” he said.
“But they just don’t realise how hard it is to play against the All Blacks, being drained emotionally and physically… and play against a fresh Australian team who had the week off and a great game plan and all the opportunities.
“But the first emotion I have is being proud of the boys.”