DOWN IN THE DUMPS: (from left) Nick Phipps, Benn Robinson and Bernard Foley look dejected after losing to Argentina.
DOWN IN THE DUMPS: (from left) Nick Phipps, Benn Robinson and Bernard Foley look dejected after losing to Argentina. Cameron Spencergetty Images

Critical Wallabies kick ruined by laser to Foley's eye

ARGENTINA has won its first Rugby Championship match, downing Australia 21-17 in controversial circumstances in Mendoza.

After giving up an early 14-0 lead, flyhalf Bernard Foley had the chance to put the Wallabies back in front, but missed two penalty goal attempts, including one sitter that hit the upright, inside the last 10 minutes.

On one of his attempts, Foley had a laser shone in his face by someone in the crowd.

"It's not great. It was happening all night on all the kicks," Foley said.

"I'm not too sure what you can do with the crowd. It's a bit like the soccer stuff that they do over here ... the carry on."

In previous matches in Argentina, Wallabies kickers Kurtley Beale and Mike Harris have also been subjected to similar treatment, while All Blacks playmaker Aaron Cruden was awarded a re-kick after suffering the same fate last year at a Test match in La Plata.

Foley said he didn't approach referee Nigel Owens about a second attempt, something on reflection he thought he probably should have done.

"You can't be doing it," Foley said.

"But how do you stop them? Maybe the re-kick will teach them, but who knows?"

While the match didn't end the way Australia wanted, it certainly started well when a break by captain Michael Hooper allowed the Wallaby backs to create space for Tevita Kuridrani to score the first try after just three minutes.

Foley landed the conversion to make it 7-0, and that became 14-0 when the returning James Horwill offloaded to a barnstorming Scott Higginbotham who crashed over next to the posts.

Argentina hit back late in the half when forward Leonardo Senatore crossed in the corner, before flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez slotted a penalty to make it 14-8 at the break.

Australia's cause wasn't helped by the loss of classy centre Matt Toomua to concussion 30 minutes into the first half, and that problem was compounded when halfback Nick Phipps and Hooper were both sin-binned in the second half.

McKenzie said he would talk to match officials about why his side was so harshly penalised, as it was against South Africa in the previous game.

"It was a heavy penalty count last week too, so we've suddenly become the most penalised team (in the competition).

"I'm not quite sure why," he said.

The loss, Australia's first to Argentina since 1997, left the Wallabies with just narrow wins at home over Argentina and South Africa, and a draw in the opening game against the All Blacks in Sydney, to show from their Rugby Championship campaign.

RESULT: Argentina 21 (L Senatore, J Imhoff tries; N Sanchez 3 pens, con) Australia 17 (T Kuridrani, S Higginbotham tries; B Foley pen, 2 cons) In Mendoza yesterday morning.

- APN SPORTS BUREAU


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