ARGENTINA 19 AUSTRALIA 25
Mike Harris offloads to Kurtley Beale despite the tackle by Santiago Fernandez. Photo: AFP
The Wallabies enjoyed one of their most courageous wins in recent times when they overcame an Argentinian ambush in Rosario this morning.
In front of a rabid crowd, who tried to distract the Wallabies by aiming lasers at the players' eyes, the Wallabies finished second in the Rugby Championship with a 25-19 victory over the Pumas.
Wallabies down Pumas in Rosario
Patched-up Wallabies overcome crowd misbehaviour to beat Argentina. Photo: AFP
Nowhere was the local desperation highlighted more than when some fans shone laser beams at stand-out playmaker Kurtley Beale, Mike Harris and the ball as they lined up penalty attempts.
Red and green lasers could be seen as Harris lined up a crucial 56th minute attempt. The fullback stopped and complained to referee Craig Joubert but it continued before he missed - the only goal he failed to slot from eight attempts.
It was a danger game for the visitors as they were well short of their best lineup, with a number of injuries forcing the inclusion of several newcomers.
Mike Harris scored 20 points for the Wallabies. Photo: AFP
However, despite enormous pressure, the Wallabies succeeded in holding out the Pumas until the 77th minute when replacement winger Juan Imhoff scored after sustained pressure on the Australian line.
Flanker Michael Hooper had an extraordinary game which included a 55-metre run after snaring a wayward Argentinian lineout throw in the Australian quarter.
Just as important was the kicking of fullback Harris who scored 20 points.
Skipper Nathan Sharpe implored his young, inexperienced team to handle the Argentinian hostility "like men, not boys" and they stood up in the pressure-cooker at the jam-packed Estadio Gigante de Arroyito.
A brilliant backline try, created by Beale and finished by Digby Ioane, in the 65th minute was the pivotal moment in the match - giving the Wallabies a 22-12 lead.
When rookie fullback Harris slotted his seventh goal from eight attempts Australia had a 13-point advantage with five minutes left and appeared home and hosed.
The Pumas hit back with Imhoff plunging over from a maul to ensure a nervous last minute but the Wallabies deservedly clinched a win to savour in the slippery conditions.
There wasn't too much that was pretty about the game but the result meant everything for the under-strength Wallabies and Deans.
It ensured they finished the tournament in second place, equal on 12 points with South Africa but ahead due to their superior amount of wins (3) - and could also see them climb back into second on the IRB world rankings.
In a patched-up backline, rookie trio Harris, centre Ben Tapuai and winger Nick Cummins handled the pressure brilliantly.
Flankers Michael Hooper and Scott Higginbotham were outstanding while five-eighth Beale was again a constant threat with the ball in hand and set up Ioane's well-worked try by running to the line and dummying to decoys before putting the winger away.
AUSTRALIA 25 (Digby Ioane try Michael Harris con 6 pens) bt ARGENTINA 19 (Juan Imhoff try Marcelo Bosch con Juan Martin Hernandez 3, Bosch pens) at Estadio Gigante de Arroyito. Referee: Craig Joubert.