Wallabies settle for gritty draw in Newcastle against Pumas

The Wallabies bungled an opportunity to assert their dominance on the Tri Nations and again came away from Newcastle without a victory following a tryless draw on Saturday evening.

With just under three minutes remaining and the scores locked at 15-15, No.10 Reece Hodge, who hadn’t missed a kick all evening, had a penalty attempt that went just right of the sticks.

A fight breaks out during Saturday night’s clash at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle.Credit:Getty

At Bankwest Stadium last week, Cheika wasn’t on the field in warm-ups but decided to be visible before kick-off this time, albeit not in a team polo. No doubt there was a reason why he did so.

He declined interviews in the lead-up, clearly not wanting to make it about him, but there was always going to be plenty of intrigue.

Cheika, who stood down after the Wallabies’ World Cup failure last year, was in the thick of it at half-time, barking orders to Pumas players.

His half-time meltdown in front of gold jerseys in Salta feels like a lifetime ago.

There was as much spice as the fixture seven days earlier, with Taniela Tupou and a man half his size, Sanchez, engaging in some unfriendly push and shove at the back of a ruck. Argentina captain Pablo Matera could find himself in serious hot water after appearing to pull Australian hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa’s hair.

None of the referees picked it up at the time and, remarkably, Paenga-Amosa was penalised for an illegal hit seconds beforehand.

Matera played right on the edge against the All Blacks yet his brain fade is likely to catch SANZAAR’s attention.

Wallabies No.12 Hunter Paisami popped up on a number of occasions at first receiver and was happy distributing but also taking on the line. His left-footed grubber nearly resulted in a try to Jordan Petaia but the youngster’s foot was just on the dead-ball line as he tried to plant the ball down.

After a penalty goal each, the Wallabies couldn’t tick over the scoreboard in the first half despite having a mountain of territory and possession.

A wobbly lineout and handling errors didn’t help their cause. While there were individual moments of excellence with ball in hand, a lack of cohesion in the back line prevented Australia from getting pay where it counted.

Winger Marika Koroibete crossed down the left edge after a hot potato pass from Tom Banks but it was slightly forward and, after a Hodge’s third penalty put Australia ahead up 9-6 at the break, the same final scoreline as the Wallabies’ infamous Test against Newcastle at the same venue in 2012.

The Pumas were warned before half-time about multiple infringements and referee Paul Williams didn’t forget after the break when he sent hooker Julian Montoya for a 10-minute spell.

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