Australia beat Argentina 34-9 in the Rugby Championship
Last Updated: 26/07/15 4:22pm
Australia set up a Rugby Championship title decider with New Zealand next month after two late tries completed a 34-9 triumph over Argentina in Mendoza.
Australia led 8-6 at half-time and pulled away in the second half for a victory that left them level on nine points with the All Blacks, who defeated South Africa 27-20 in Johannesburg ahead of an August 8 showdown in Sydney.
The Wallabies, who lost to the Pumas at the same venue last year, were more penetrative in attack and stronger in defence, with the home side limited to three penalties from fly-half Nicolas Sanchez.
Matt Toomua was an early casualty after a clash of heads with rival inside centre Juan Pablo Socino forced him off the field for a concussion test which he failed. Quade Cooper, dropped after a 24-20 Brisbane win over South Africa last weekend, came on and Australia finally got some reward with 17 minutes gone.
Full-back Israel Folau collected an aimless Argentine kick inside his half, counter-attacked and fly-half Bernard Foley unleashed winger Joe Tomane to sprint over the line.
Foley failed to convert and rival fly-half Sanchez narrowed the gap to two points by slotting a penalty on the half hour.
Sanchez, who played poorly in the heavy away loss to New Zealand last weekend, was much improved and earlier came close with an ambitious drop-goal attempt.
Foley fluffed an angled penalty kick from just outside the 22-metre line, but made amends from another kick at goal on 40 minutes.
There was still time for Argentina to win another penalty and Sanchez made no mistake from close range, leaving his side with a flattering two-point deficit at the break.
Although the first part of the second half was more evenly contested, Australia had greater scoring success and stretched their lead to 19-9 by the hour.
Sanchez trimmed the deficit by three points with his third successful penalty only for Australia to go 10 points clear with a try by replacement lock Dean Mumm that should not have been awarded.
Big-screen replays showed replacement loose forward Michael Hooper passing forward to Mumm – back after a five-year Test absence – who held off several challenges to dot down.
Australia were temporarily reduced to 14 men on 66 minutes when a high, late tackle by Cooper led to a yellow card.
But the sin-binning had little effect with the Wallabies finishing strongly as centre Tevita Kuridrani and winger Adam Ashley-Cooper scored tries with Foley converting one.