Reece Hodge felt he “let the country down” after missing a late penalty in Australia’s 15-15 draw with Argentina in the Tri Nations.
The Wallabies fly-half had the match on his boot as he lined up the 78th-minute kick that would almost certainly have been a match-winner.
He sent the ball wide of the right upright, however, and despite kicking five from five chances before that, it was the sixth that weighed heavy.
“I feel like I’ve let the country down,” Hodge said on Fox Sports. “It’s a pretty tough one to take at the moment.
“Obviously we were up 15-6 and had our chances to seal that game. I guess inaccuracy and poor game management from our game managers let us down.
“Especially in that first half we created a lot of opportunities, it’s just inaccuracy in the last passes and movements that let us down.
“It was 9-6 at half-time, but with the weight of possession we had it should have been 15 or 20 and it’s a credit to the way that Argentina defended also.”
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 21, 2020
Australia captain Michael Hooper suggested his team lost their discipline and paid a heavy price.
In a gruelling match, five penalties apiece from Hodge and Nicolas Sanchez produced the scoring, with Australia having two first-half tries chalked off by the television match official.
Armed with a 15-6 lead by the hour mark, Australia looked set to see the job through at the McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, only to cough up the chances that allowed Sanchez to boot Argentina back onto level terms.
Hooper said: “We tried to play with a lot of territory – I think we won that – we were just unable to convert there in the second half, and probably ill-discipline. Sanchez made us hurt.
“We felt good, we were playing our shape. They turned the ball over a couple of times, we had some loose passes, some knock-ons there, so we need to be more accurate.”
Hooper explained it would take a while for Australia to get their heads around the match.
“The mind is still going 100 miles per hour so we’ll debrief and catch our breath and look at it properly,” Hooper said.
Asked if the early intention had been to get the ball wide, Hooper said: “You can’t just go straight to edge.
“We tried to punch it through them, they did well to slow the ball up, they hold you up high, slow you up, then they get men in a defensive line.
“We put some smart kicks in behind but were unable to crack it tonight.”
Argentina skipper Pablo Matera felt his team got their reward for sticking to their defensive strengths, recovering well from having Julian Montoya sin-binned early in the second half.
A week on from their jaw-dropping victory over New Zealand, the Pumas could not quite hit those heights but showed they are a force to be reckoned with once again.
“We trust in ourselves. We trust in our system,” Matera said.
“We were nine points behind but we still did our system because we trust it. It was not our best performance but a good effort from all the team.”
He said the game was “really physical, really brutal”, adding: “Australia play a great game, they put us under a lot of pressure.
“We defended really well. We didn’t have a lot of chances to score tries but we were very disciplined.”