“It was probably one of the more satisfying Tests I’ve played, just with things changing over the week,” said Slipper.
“Losing quade, losing Hoops, losing Porecki, the way we started the game over and put pressure on ourselves, but the way we fought our way back into the game and then wrestled it back into our hands, it was a proud moment to a part of.
Rennie acknowledged that the Wallabies were not clinical enough in the 2-1 series defeat to England last month and said the victory in Mendoza was “a start”.
“We have more in us, but I’m very happy with the character,” he said. “We had some late changes and [we lost] a key figure in the game, but that’s the thing about this group. They have a lot of character and courage and they stood up.”
In a stop-start clash dominated by referee Mike Adamson’s whistle, the Wallabies turned to their rolling maul to do the damage, scoring three of their five tries with the Brumbies-inspired weapon.
The Pumas had the best of the first half, leading 19-10 at halftime, thanks to poor discipline from the visitors, who conceded nine penalties in the first 40 minutes.
But the Wallabies rallied and scored three tries in the second half to get home. Leading 27-26 in the 70th minute, the Wallabies boldly turned the corner again and Folau Fainga’a did what he so often does in Canberra and jumped over. An attempt at Len Ikitau after the siren sealed victory.
Cooper sustained his injury in the 47th minute, when he pushed off to try to launch an attack.
Fraser McReight, who replaced Hooper, made his captain and jersey proud with a busy try with a try.
Cheika said he was happy with his team’s effort, but regretted their poor maul defense.
“I thought we did really well for the first 50 or 60 and then Australia did really well to come back and attack and pressure us. We went a bit individually at the time and got caught because of that,” said Cheika.
“The biggest area was obviously three attempts from the maul, so that’s something we really want to sort out. We see that as a front line for our team, and that was really disappointing as a team and it’s something we need to work on and move into the game.”
Argentina led 19-10 after a first half that was often interrupted by the referee’s shrill whistle.
The Wallabies’ tendency against England last month to make things difficult for themselves in their own half continued from the start, when two errors gave the Pumas the ball in the first minute in the 22nd.
They escaped that time, but Pablo Matera didn’t take much longer to open the scoring as he took a nice inside ball about 10 yards out and beat Allan Ala’alatoa’s cover defense to score the first points in the fifth minute. .
The Wallabies responded with a penalty on Cooper from the kick-off, with a strong defense, but returned the three points straight away by taking offense from the restart.
Australia couldn’t apply serious pressure as they kept turning the ball, and with Adamson cracking for offside, the Wallabies got another three points in the 15th minute.
The Pumas led 13-3, but they came back into the game with a bold decision to turn down easy runs in the 16th minute. A lineout maul came to nothing, but Cooper did enough in the next phase to bring in two defenders and give Jordan Petaia a slant run to the line for a try.
But the penalties kept coming, Argentine kicker Emiliano Boffelli knocked over another in the 20th minute.
Cooper had a chance to make a second attempt shortly afterwards when he made a clean break into the field, but failed to pass a flying Fraser McReight as support, who probably would have scored. Another chance went begging shortly after when James Slipper couldn’t hold a Cooper offload near the line.
A gross penalty against Jed Holloway ended the break and Boffelli kicked another goal to extend the lead.
Holloway came close to scoring after Tom Wright counterattacked well, but he had no support in the cleanout and the ball was lost.
Cooper was looking for another try in the Pumas area in the 47th minute when he slipped on wet grass as he pushed off, and he immediately hit the deck holding his calf.
Players comforted him before he walked away, seemingly aware it was a serious tear.
However, the Wallabies’ moods quickly turned when they used a lineout maul near the line to score a second try. McReight burst through the middle to finally hone his first Test five point.
The game and the deficit tightened, but the Pumas got away again in the 55th minute when a sloppy chase allowed the hosts to break the chase line, and an 80-yard move ended with Juan Martin Gonzalez scoring a well-received try.
The game still had plenty of twists to come. The Wallabies again entered Pumas territory and used the rolling maul, and this time the referee reprimanded Argentina for illegally collapsing and awarded a penalty try.
A long-range penalty from Reece Hodge finally gave the Wallabies their first lead after more than an hour of play.
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