Dave Rennie concedes the Wallabies have “a long way to go” after finishing a year that started so promisingly with the Tri Nations wooden spoon after another lacklustre draw with Argentina.
The Wallabies and Pumas finished deadlocked at 16-16 on Saturday night after fullback Reece Hodge missed with a long-range last-minute penalty goal attempt for the third time in three stalemates in 2020.
Hodge also had the chance to boot Australia to victory with three minutes to go in their 15-15 draw with the Pumas two weeks ago in Newcastle.
The cursed star also struck the upright with an after-the-siren shot in the Wallabies’ season-opening 16-16 draw with the All Blacks in Wellington in October.
He could only hang his head in despair after his latest miss in driving rain at Bankwest Stadium.
“I feel a bit sorry for him,” coach Rennie said.
“He’s kicked well and there weren’t many lining up to make that shot. It would have been nice if he’d kicked that, but it is what it is.”
It was another cruel finish for Hodge, who has otherwise been among Australia’s best during a six-Test campaign that yielded just one win to go with two losses and the three draws.
Had Hodge not slotted three earlier penalty goals plus a pressure conversion from out wide 12 minutes from fulltime to tie the scores up, the Wallabies would have lost.
A late try to Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper has salvaged a 16-all draw with Los Pumas in the Tri-Nations finale at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney. #AUSvARG #Wallabies #LosPumas #TriNations https://t.co/OOj7Gq3tgQ
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 5, 2020
“We’ve got a long way to go. We’re going to get a lot better,” Rennie said.
“There’s no lack of heart, no lack of effort but we’ve got to be way more clinical.”
The Pumas, roundly written off after last week’s 38-0 drubbing at the hands of New Zealand and then having inspirational skipper Pablo Matera and two teammates stood down for disciplinary reasons, looked like keeping the Wallabies try-less for the second game running.
“It’s a hollow feeling,” said Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.
“It’s very disappointing.”
Rennie said pre-game he’d settle for the Wallabies winning ugly to finish the year off on a high.
Instead, they almost suffered one of the ugliest losses in history, against a depleted Pumas outfit who endured several sleepless nights while dealing with the fallout from the Matera affair.
The Wallabies only salvaged a draw after fighting back from 10 points down while playing the last 20 minutes with 14 men following the red-carding of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto for dangerous contact to Santiago Grondona’s head in a tackle gone wrong.
“We showed a lot of character tonight,” Rennie said.
“We’re a work in progress.
“We made dumb some errors and got punished for it.
“There’s obviously areas we know we need to be better. We won one out of six, if you look at it from that perspective.
“So it’s disappointing but we’ve got an understanding of where we’re at.
“You’ve got to convert one of those opportunities and it’s a different result.”
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