All Blacks hit back in style against Argentina in Rugby Champs
The win takes the New Zealand side to the top of the Rugby Championship table, ahead of the Wallabies' match against the Springboks in Sydney.
Sam Cane of the New Zealand All Blacks looks on during the Rugby Championship match against Argentina. Picture: Phil Walter/Getty Images
A rampant New Zealand put their troubles behind them to beat Argentina 53-3 in their Rugby Championship Test in Hamilton on Saturday, producing an emphatic display to avenge last week’s shock loss to the Pumas.
The All Blacks led 24-3 at halftime and never looked like suffering a fourth successive loss on home soil, with the outcome leaving both teams on two wins and two losses in the Rugby Championship.
It was a vastly more clinical display from the home side than last week’s 25-18 defeat in Christchurch, where the Pumas’ resolute defensive wall held sway.
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Despite wet conditions, New Zealand produced just three handling errors while unleashing several thrilling attacking moves.
They created first-half tries to Ethan de Groot, Caleb Clarke and Reiko Ioane while Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett crossed after the interval.
Argentina wing Emiliano Boffelli, who scored 20 points with the boot last week, landed a solitary penalty for his team’s only points.
The result provides some relief in a turbulent season for under-fire New Zealand coach Ian Foster, who has now overseen three wins from his last nine Tests in charge — a record he will hope to improve on in two remaining Rugby Championship Tests against Australia this month.
Captain Sam Cane, whose position is also under scrutiny, expressed relief.
“It was massively important (to win), we were under a bit of pressure. We weren’t happy with what we dished up last week,” he said.
“This week, we were in the game right from the start and we’re able to turn that into points. That was a pretty enjoyable night.”
Argentina counterpart Julian Montoya said his team learned some valuable lessons.
“We need to keep working to be better. Last week we weren’t world champions, this week we are not the worst of the world,” he said.
New Zealand’s forwards laid the platform, dominating the breakdown in a key reversal of last week, while they benefited from a strategy that entailed more kicking variations.
Argentina couldn’t match the ball-running prowess of the All Blacks forwards, led by No.8 Savea and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho.
The visitors were on the back foot from the start when lock Tomas Lavanini dropped the first pass of the game.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga slotted an early penalty goal — his first of 14 points — and converted a close-range try from prop de Groot.
New Zealand were 17-0 ahead inside the first quarter when quick hands and an injection of speed from the impressive centre Ioane put wing Clarke across in the left corner.
Boffelli kicked a penalty for the visitors but they paid soon afterwards for a yellow card shown to Lavanini for a professional foul.
New Zealand exploited the numerical advantage to send Ioane over, capping a dominant first-half display.
Argentina enjoyed more territory in the second spell but they failed to capitalise and began to fade, allowing New Zealand to surge clear over the final quarter through tries to fullback Jordie Barrett, Savea and replacements Retallick and Beauden Barrett.