GOLD COAST, Qld - Relieved coach Robbie Deans has stressed no one should devalue the Wallabies' nerve-wracking 23-19 escape-act against improving rivals Argentina.
Los Pumas were poised for their maiden Rugby Championship win, and one of the best in their Test history, when they led a rattled Australia 19-6 with 20 minutes left at Skilled Park on Saturday night.
A defeat would have almost certainly ended the under-pressure Deans' hopes of keeping his job for next year's British and Irish Lions tour.
But the injury-plagued Wallabies rallied with a try to centre Pat McCabe before stand-in halfback Nick Phipps set up a Digby Ioane match-winner with 11 minutes to go.
Ranked No.8 in the world, the Pumas were $5 underdogs but showed their 16-all draw against South Africa three weeks ago was no fluke, nor their strong first hour against New Zealand last week when they trailed just 9-5.
"I wouldn't underestimate what we just did to be frank," Deans said of his side's fightback. "No side has played with any fluency against the Argentinians. I think we need to give due respect to them. They've just come into the tournament and a big motivation for them is to earn respect and they have done that against every opponent.
"They're a tough team to play against — they're sticky, they're proud, they defend superbly well.
"Their attack is remarkable. Give them credit."
It was the second week in a row the Wallabies have come back from a big deficit to win and Deans again praised the character of his young team.
He lauded rookie lock Kane Douglas for an "exceptional" Test debut where he was highly involved in both attack and defence.
There was plenty of intent to attack, but as wide as they went the Pumas, advised by canny Kiwi Graham Henry, seemed to have the answers in defence.
Both skipper Nathan Sharpe and Radike Samo got over the line in the first half but couldn't finish off due to brilliant cover tackles.
"We coughed up a couple of tries which were unnecessary to be frank and as a result we had to work hard to get out of it," Deans said.