Australia beat Argentina to claim second place in the Rugby Championship
Last Updated: 08/10/12 12:55pm
Australia outmuscled Argentina to secure a 25-19 victory in Rosario and finish the inaugural Rugby Championship second to New Zealand.
A Wallabies team severely depleted by injuries were clinging to a three-point lead at a packed 40,000-seat Estadio Gigante de Arroyito until wing Digby Ioane scored a fine try 15 minutes from time.
Australia's third victory in the elite southern hemisphere tournament saw them finish equal with South Africa on points, but they secured the runner-up position by virtue of having one more win than the Springboks.
Makeshift full-back Michael Harris kicked 20 points, including five first-half penalties to put Australia 15-9 ahead at the break, the Wallabies making the fewer handling mistakes with a slippery ball in damp conditions.
But Argentina set up a tense finish after Australian replacement scrum-half Brett Sheehan was sinbinned with another substitute, wing Juan Imhoff, claiming a pushover try that outside centre Marcelo Bosch converted.
Argentina fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez had slotted three penalties for the Pumas before being forced off with a leg injury but it was Ioane who had the final say, drifting in from the left wing to take a pass, before cutting clean through the Argentine defence and touching down under the crossbar.
"The character shown and the intensity was outstanding and that provided the platform for our victory," Australia captain Nathan Sharpe told reporters.
"On a field that was smaller than we're used to and one of the wettest balls we've played with and, in my career, one of the most hostile crowds, we got the job done."
Argentina had to settle for bottom place while world champions the All Blacks ensured a clean sweep of six wins with victory over South Africa hours earlier.