The Wallabies did just enough to record a 25-19 victory over the Pumas in a scrappy match in Rosario on Saturday.
The win will come as a boost for Australia who have had to deal with a heavy injury toll this season, whilst Argentina will be frustrated at missing out on the opportunity to record their first victory of the Rugby Championship.
Both teams struggled to build any sort of meaningful momentum in a match dominated by the sound of the referee's whistle as the high error-rate continually snuffed out any continuity.
The visitors took a 15-9 lead into the half-time break with five penalties from the boot of Mike Harris, and it was not until the 65th minute that wing Digby Ioane got over for the first try of the game.
The Wallabies were hanging on to a three-point lead at a packed Estadio Gigante de Arroyito when awarded a scrum in Pumas territory 15 minutes from time.
The ball came back swiftly to flyhalf Kurtley Beale and Ioane drifted in from the left wing to take a pass, cut clean through the Argentine defence and dot down under the crossbar.
Harris converted to give Australia a 22-12 lead that he increased eight minutes later with a penalty which lifted his personal contribution to 20 points.
Argentina set up a tense finish after Australian replacement scrumhalf Brett Sheehan was sin binned with another substitute, wing Juan Imhoff, claiming a pushover try that outside centre Marcelo Bosch converted.
Beale missed a late penalty, offering Argentina a chance to snatch victory by running the ball the length of the pitch and scoring a converted try, but it was not to be as a knock-on quickly ended the move and the final whistle blew.
Harris kicked six penalties and a conversion with Ioane completing the scoring while Argentina flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez slotted three penalties, Bosch one penalty and a conversion, and Imhoff scored a try.
Victory lifted Australia to second place - they finished level on 12 points with South Africa but won more matches - in the first four-nation southern hemisphere championship that was dominated by New Zealand with six wins.
Man of the match: There were not many to choose from in a disappointing game, our award goes to Wallabies flank Michael Hooper who woked hard and showed a few good touches.
Moment of the match: Ioane's first-phase try which broke 65 minutes of frustrating, stop-start rugby.
Villain of the match: The shameful person who insisted on shining a greeen light in the faces of the Wallaby goalkickers from the stands.
Pens: Hernandez 3, Bosch
Pens: Harris 6
Yellow cards: Albacete (Repeated infringements, 25 mins) Sheehan (Repeated infringements, 74 mins)
Argentina: 15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 18 Leonardo Senatore, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Nicolas Sanchez, 22 Juan Imhoff.
Australia: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Sitaleki Timani, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Dave Dennis, 19 Scott Higginbotham, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Dominic Shipperley.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)