San Salvador de Jujuy - Ramiro Moyano was the villain and the hero as Argentina won for only the second time in 11 Tests by defeating Georgia 45-29 on Saturday in San Salvador de Jujuy.
The winger was sin-binned during the first half of the one-off international for tackling an airborne opponent, but atoned by scoring three second-half tries within 14 minutes.
Victory was a timely morale booster for the Pumas, whose next outing is away to resurgent South Africa on August 19 in a Rugby Championship opener.
Georgia, the dominant European second-tier nation with ambitions of playing in an expanded Six Nations Championship, finished strongly after trailing by 30 points on the hour.
But if they are to ever match European giants like England and Ireland, the east Europeans must improve their tackling, with several Argentine tries gift-wrapped.
An almost capacity crowd in the 23,000-seat Estadio 23 de Agosto at the foothills of the Andes mountains saw fly-half Nicolas Sanchez kick two penalties to give Argentina an early 6-0 lead.
Georgia halved the deficit on 20 minutes when full-back Merab Kvirikashvili, who scored 27 points in tour wins over Canada and the United States, slotted a penalty.
The Pumas were reduced to 14 men almost immediately when a dangerous tackle by Moyano from the kick-off cost him a yellow card and 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
But the east Europeans failed to take advantage of their numerical advantage and frequent fouls were punished by Sanchez, who kicked two more penalties for a nine-point advantage.
Georgia had lock Giorgi Nemsadze yellow-carded just before Moyano returned to the field as English referee Luke Pearce lost patience with persistent Georgian infringements.
The forward had barely left the field when Argentina scored the first of nine tries in the match with skipper and hooker Agustin Creevy touching down off a driving maul.
Full-back Joaquin Tuculet got a second Argentine try soon after and Sanchez, the 2015 Rugby World Cup leading scorer, converted both.
Rattled Georgia hit back with a brilliant try as numerous players handled in a sweeping move before centre Davit Kacharava scored, but Kvirikashvili just missed the conversion.
The third quarter of the match belonged to Moyano as he made up for his sin-binning by scoring three tries.
He intercepted a Georgian pass and raced clear for the first, then scored from close range and completed his hat-trick thanks partly to woeful attempts at tackling by the tourists.
Georgia also got on the scoreboard through a seven-point penalty try, after the first Moyano score, but as the match entered the final quarter they trailed 45-15.
Georgia finished strongly with replacements Soso Matiashvili and Shalva Mamukashvili scoring tries, both of which the former converted.