The Walias will return home with their tails between their legs after a golden opportunity in Argentina.
Dave Rennie’s men were frustrated by an overturned try midway through the second half, but were not beaten by San Juan 48-17 due to the timing.
Instead, the Colts were slow out of the blocks the first time and fell behind 14-0 after 6 minutes.
The Wallis felt they should have taken the lead midway through the first half when James O’Connor touched down, but referee Carl Dixon instead called for the TMO’s help when James Slipper was deemed to have cleared an opponent illegally.
Former All Blacks star Andrew Mertens called the decision “ridiculous”.
Michael Cheka’s men rubbed salt in the wound with two quick tries to open up a 26-10 lead at the break.
A penalty from Emiliano Boffelli and Thomas Gallo’s second try from support put Los Pumas ahead.
Len Ikitau hit back after 66 minutes and two late tries saw the home side come out and punish the Colts with a miscued bonus point.
The Wolves were tactically superior, with their back three exposed by Argentina’s clever moves and 28 possessions in the game.
In particular, Tom Wright, playing his second Test at fullback, was exposed in the air and in his decision.
The Colts were also battered throughout the game, struggling at times in their offense and while their offense looked good, their lack of discipline at times made their defense weak.
Rob Valletini was one of the Wales’ best and the back-rower was constantly beating the goal line.
O’Connor, on the other hand, made a desperate comeback after his attempt was rejected.
The player didn’t get as much ball in his hands as he would have liked and Rennie has a decision to make about his players but he seems to have muddied the waters by returning from youngster Noah Lolesio.
The defeat will put more pressure on Rennie, who is losing men on and off the pitch and struggling to manage wins.
Slipper described the loss as “sad” and a step back after a “difficult” tour in which they lost captain Michael Hooper (personal health) and Quade Cooper (ACL).
Nor is Hooper likely to return when they take on the Springboks at Adelaide Oval in a fortnight.
Rennie’s try after 60 seconds saw Jordan Petaiah pass a hot ball to his back three teammate Wright and the home side ran on to score.
Argentina left the Wallabies shell shocked after 6 minutes. But the shell-shocked Wallabies rallied and finally got their hands on the ball as Fraser McCreight’s superb performance at the breakdown won the visitors some possession.
Shortly after the line-out, Valetini charged over the line and captain Slipper scored back.
The Colts were close by four points and got three points from the ball game.
The Whalers looked to be going ahead, but midway through the second half O’Connor’s try was ruled out after a skid was illegally cleared.
Former All Blacks star Andrew Mertens slammed the call by referee Kyle Dixon, calling the decision “ridiculous”.
The decision was soon made by Jeronimo de la Fuente’s 14-point lead in the 24th minute.
Seven minutes later, Juan Martin Gonzalez scored to extend the lead to 26-10.
The Wallabies had a chance of their own when Emiliano Boffelli’s try was disallowed after TMO Marius van der Westhuizen had nothing to do with Dixon’s lead. Marika Koroibete was showing a bit of a spark in defense when Boffeli lost the ball.
But Mertens disagreed, saying, “I’m having a hard time understanding that the ball touching the ground is not conclusive evidence.”
After a quiet start to the second half, Wright’s inexperience at fullback, at least from a point of view, was again exposed in the 52nd minute. A penalty kept him isolated as the Pumas got on the ball to win, allowing Boffelli to add three more points from the kick.
Although Ikita hit back for the visitors, two tries in the last five minutes of the Test saw the home side secure a convincing victory.