Australia has overcome an ill-disciplined display and the sin-binning of key forwards Michael Hooper and Adam Coleman to topple Argentina, ending their Rugby Championship on a high with a 33-21 victory at Twickenham.
The Wallabies took the edge on the scoreboard to seal second place on the table, but earned the ire of French referee Mathieu Raynal for their physical play in a spiteful Test on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEDT).
Hooper, in the 17th minute, and Coleman, in the 31st, copped first-half yellow cards for repeated high tackles and Nick Phipps lucky not to join them.
The reserve halfback gave away a penalty with 12 minutes to go, which reduced Australia’s lead to four points, for shoving over Argentina’s team medic who had attempted to kick away a bouncing ball during a break in play.
The action sparked an all-in brawl but Phipps escaped with just a penalty.
Leroy Houston became coach Michael Cheika’s 11th debutant of the season, coming on with 10 minutes to go as Australia clung to a 12-point victory which was sealed with a late, runaway intercept try to No.6 Dean Mumm.
Despite having a one-man disadvantage for half of the opening 40 minutes, Australia went to the break leading 18-8 thanks to tries to Coleman and outside centre Samu Kerevi, who bagged a double.
Both were beneficiaries of incisive runs by classy right-wing Dane Haylett-Petty, who made bursts down the sideline and quickly recycled the ball.
In the first instance the 204cm Coleman steamed into a gaping hole and trampled defenders before using his enormous reach to stretch out and touch down for a second Test try.
Right on halftime, in front of a crowd of 48, 515, Kerevi burst through two defenders in the Argentina red zone to finish off a backline movement.
Kerevi added a second shortly after halftime, enjoying the spoils of Hooper’s hard work as the Australian No.7 firstly forced an error from Pumas captain Agustin Creevy before offloading for Kerevi to speed off under the posts.
The Wallabies were punished on both occasions they went down a man, with Matias Alemanno crossing while Hooper was off and Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias burying a penalty just before Colemans return – though it could’ve been worse.
Iglesias, who was also denied a second-minute try, missing two penalty shots at goal as well as a conversion.
However, he found his range after the break and, in addition to an earlier try to Jeronimo de la Fuento, with 25 minutes to go had kicked the Pumas to within a converted try before Australia closed out the win.