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Australia, Argentina play to 16-16 draw in Tri-Nations match

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SYDNEY, Australia – Australia and Argentina played to a 16-16 Tri-Nations draw on Saturday after fullback Reece Hodge missed with a long-range last-minute penalty goal attempt for the second time in two weeks.

Hodge also had the chance to boot Australia to victory with three minutes to go in its 15-15 draw with the Pumas two weeks ago in Newcastle.

He also struck the uprights with an after-the-siren shot in the Wallabies’ season-opening 16-16 stalemate with the All Blacks in Wellington in October.

Hodge had earlier slotted three penalty goals on Saturday.

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Argentina came into the match as underdogs after being beaten 38-0 by the Tri-Nations champion All Blacks and then having inspirational skipper Pablo Matera and two teammates stood down for disciplinary reasons.

Michael Hooper, in his last test as captain before taking a year-long sabbatical in Japan, was yellow carded in the first half for a no-arms tackle.

His replacement, forward Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, was sent off for making dangerous contact to Santiago Grondona’s head at the 60-minute mark.

The Wallabies looked down and out when they lost Salakaia-Loto. But Hooper and Hodge restored hope with a try to the Wallabies captain in the 67th minute as they ultimately battled back from a 10-point first-half deficit to salvage the draw.

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“Challenging conditions tonight and they defend very well. Discipline let us down at key times,” Australia coach Dave Rennie said.

“We showed a lot of character tonight,“ he added. ”Seven points down, reduced to 14 men and I thought we controlled it pretty well and played in the right parts of the field and got rewarded.”

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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