The All Blacks remain on track for a Rugby Championship clean sweep after putting away a spirited but inaccurate Los Pumas 36-17 in Buenos Aires.
I was at the ground and it was the same old story: the game started with some Argentine movements that made the local public dream that this could be the big night when the Pumas would beat the All Blacks for the first time ever, but over time the hopes of the crowd were dashed by the good All Blacks’ performance at the end of the first half..
Los Pumas scored more points than the Kiwis did after the break but the crowd had been “taken out of the game” in the the five minutes before half time.
Argentina skipper Augustin Creevy on the charge
After two minutes Beauden Barrett(10) opened the scoring through a penalty kick. After an intense struggle for the next 25 minutes the Kiwis scored the first try of the night after skipper Kieran Read #8 turned turned down penalty goal attempts and went for the try. To the disappointment of the crowd pick-and-drives by Ardie Savea (7) and Brodie Retallick (5), enabled Anton Lienert-Brown (13) to dot down.
The conversion by Barrett made the score NZ 10-0 near the half-hour mark.
The locals perked up five minutes later when flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez opened the scoring for Los Pumas with a penalty goal but this seemed to unleash the fury of the All Blacks who scored three tries in the next five minutes.
Anton Lienert-Brown – first try scorer
The first of the three was at 35 minutes, after fullback Israel Dagg was forced out near the Argentine corner post. But a long lineout throw by Augustin Creevy (2) was taken by Read, and Lienert-Brown was in the action again when he passed to his midfield partner Ryan Crotty (13), who scored.
After the restart Argentina didn’t kick the ball out to clear and winger Julian Savea and then lock Patrick Tuipulotu took the ball up. After a Puma lineout a kick was charged down and the All Blacks pounced for hooker Dan Coles to go over.
The crowd was numb but even they probably enjoyed the last try of the half because it was a true work of art. After scrumhalf TJ Penera fielded the restart kick the ball went the length of the field through several sets of hands and it was Perenara who got the final touch to score. It was a real demonstration of power, a Super Rugby style try—running rugby, baby!
Half time score: All Blacks 29 – Argentina 3
Brodie Retallick in action
The All Black dominance continued after the break and after six minutes Ardie Savea (7) smashed through tackles and Lienert-Brown tip-toed down the touch line before passing to try-scorer fullback Ben Smith. It looked like it was going to be 50-point win but after Barrett converted the try the All Blacks did not score another point in the match.
To the appreciation of the crowd Argentina dug in and camped in the Kiwi 22 and after some cynical All Black defence LHP Joe Moody got a yellow card for repeated team infringements. After several scrums near the goal line and with referee Jaco Peyper looking ready to award a penalty try, Facundo Isa (8) scored from a scrum. Nicolas Sanchez (10) converted and the Pumas got some pride back though down 10-36 at 57minutes.
Facundo Isa – one of the best on the ground
Six minutes after the Isa try, Liam Squire (6) got the second All Black yellow card, near his goal line, and they had only 14 men again. But the Pumas could not capitalise this time after losing the ball.
They were able to get into NZ territory later though and after an attacking lineout SG Iglesias (12) cross-kicked perfectly for Joaquin Tuculet (15) who got the bounce to score. Iglesias also added the extras from touch, with three minutes remaining.
Final score: New Zealand 36 – Argentina 17.
Julian Savea – made a lot of metres
The All Blacks again demonstrated why they are the best team in the world and were applauded by all the local public who went to see them, including the writer of this report. It was a great night for rugby lovers—to enjoy the best players in the world before your own eyes it is something that doesn’t happen every day.
To help their financial position Los Pumas will face the Wallabies in a “home game”at Twickenham next week.
Joaquin Tuculet – got a great bounce of the ball to score
The game changer
Down 3-10 after 35 minutes Los Pumas were well in the game but the three-try fury unleashed by the All Blacks in the last five minutes of the first half was unstoppable and put the result beyond doubt.
Man of the match
Facundo Isa continued his superb form in the Rugby Championship and outclassed Kieran Read in my opinion.
Almost all the Kiwis had strong games and 13 Anton Lienert-Brown laid claims to a permanent starting role at centre; his midfield partner Ryan Crotty was also class, as were the locks Brodie Retallick and Patrick Tuipulotu.
But I was watching Beauden Barrett closely on every play at the ground and realised he was heading for greatness; so he is my man of the match.
Beauden Barrett, riding high, is my personal man of the match
Tries: F. Isa 57′, J. Tuculet (77′).
Conversions: N. Sanchez (57′), SG Inglesias (78′).
Penalty: N. Sanchez (35′).
Tries: A. Lienert-Brown (28′), R. Crotty (35′), D. Coles (38′), TJ Perenara (40), B. Smith (46′).
Conversions: B. Barrett (29′, 36′, 39′ 46′)
Penalty: B. Barrett (2′).
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