The Junior Wallabies have fallen 24-21 to Argentina in a wild encounter on the Sunshine Coast.
There were three penalty tries and two yellow cards in the opening round of the U20 Oceania Championship as the newcomers kicked a 79th-minute penalty to seal the win.
“We knew it was going to be a tough grind in the wet conditions but credit to Argentina, they were physical and played smart footy,” Junior Wallabies captain Ned Slack-Smith said after the game.
“A few execution errors cost us but we’ll shift our focus to the next two games.
“There were a few small penalties that turned the momentum, a few clinical errors we need to fix.”
The visitors’ victory was built by their dominance at scrum time as they won penalty after penalty on the Junior Wallabies goal-line.
A third penalty inside five minutes gave little option but the referee to award a penalty.
The boot of Mason Gordon kept the hosts in the match as he nailed two quick penalties.
This brought the hosts back into the contest with Reds fullback Mac Grealy nearly scoring, before the TMO pulled it back for a knock-on in the build-up.
However, he couldn’t be denied eight minutes later as he latches onto a loose pass from Aubrey to score.
Whilst the Junior Wallabies maintained their lead, the struggle at scrum time continued as Argentina dominated territory.
This led to the second penalty try of the night, with Remsy Lemisio yellow card in the process.
In wet and wild conditions, Gordon third’s penalty attempt of the night just had the distance to tie it up 14-all at the break.
Argentina hit back straight after the half as Eliseo Chiavassa scored the easiest of tries under the posts.
The injection of Siosifa Amone off the bench helped steady the scrum as Nathan Grey’s men built pressure inside Argentina’s 22.
Kalani Thomas and Lukę Callan were both held up as Argentina’s defence held strong.
In the end, the Junior Wallabies were rewarded for their own dominance with a penalty try as Antonio Elias was yellow-carded for collapsing the maul.
With scores locked up, replacement Agustin Sascaro looked to have won the game for Argentina with a penalty with 30 seconds to go.
However, the Junior Wallabies refused to quit and won the ball back, earning a penalty to set up a grandstand finish.
The decision to go for the line instead of levelling it up came back to haunt them as Mason Gordon failed to find touch, allowing Argentina to seal the win.
Argentina 24 (Penalty Try 2, Chiavassa; Suarez Folch con; Sascaro pen) def Australia 21 (Grealy, Penalty Try; Gordon 3 pens)