Argentina 15-15 Australia: Wallabies denied as Hodge fluffs late penalty chance

By John Skilbeck 21 November 2020 7
Argentina 15-15 Australia: Wallabies denied as Hodge fluffs late penalty chance

Reece Hodge missed a glorious late chance to kick Australia to victory as the Wallabies were held 15-15 by Argentina in a tense Tri Nations tussle.

In a battle between teams who had both beaten the All Blacks in the previous fortnight, Australia had two first-half tries disallowed and were left to rely on the precision from the tee of their star fly-half.

In front of a socially distanced crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium, Hodge was 100 per cent from his first five penalties and looked like getting the better of opposite number Nicolas Sanchez.

Sanchez had missed one early in the second half but booted the Pumas back from 15-6 down to level terms, only for Argentina to give up a 78th-minute penalty chance to Australia after a ruck infringement.

Hodge, from around 40 metres, sent his kick high into the Newcastle night sky but wide of the uprights.

The tone was set early on as Hodge and Sanchez exchanged penalties before Australia appeared to snatch the first try in the 15th minute, Jordan Petaia chasing down Hunter Paisami's skidding kick.

Referee Paul Williams fancied Petaia had scored but the television match official produced evidence that showed the centre's foot was on the dead-ball line as he grounded the ball.

Sanchez nudged Argentina in front but Hodge swiftly levelled up. Tensions were rising and the slight Sanchez clashed with powerhouse Australia prop Taniela Tupou in a sparky confrontation.

Marika Koroibete's score in the left corner was chalked off because of a forward pass from Tom Banks but Hodge kicked Australia to a 9-6 half-time advantage.

Coach Dave Rennie's side had a man advantage when Julian Montoya was sin-binned early in the second half, Argentina penalised for persistent infringements.

Hodge booted Australia 12-6 in front and it looked increasingly likely to be their day when Sanchez swung a penalty wide.

Santiago Socino clattered Hodge with a stray arm shortly before Australia went nine points clear through another penalty with 23 minutes to play.

Sanchez was not finished, though, and after trimming the lead to six points he produced two mighty 45-yard penalties to drag Argentina level.

Australia were losing their way, but then came Hodge's big chance to salvage victory - and for the first time all night he was wayward.

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John Skilbeck