Mon, Oct 01, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Clinical seven-try All Blacks clinch title in La Plata

AFP, LA PLATA, Argentina, and Pretoria

New Zealand’s Cory Jane scores a try against Argentina in their Rugby Championship match in La Plata, Argentina, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

New Zealand ran in seven tries to crush Argentina 54-15 on Saturday and win the inaugural Rugby Championship title with a game to spare.

The clinical and merciless world champions recovered from conceding an early try to score four and build a 32-8 halftime advantage before a capacity 53,000 crowd at the Estadio Ciudad de La Plata.

Argentina also started the second half well and scored another try, only for the All Blacks to once more wrest control and right wing Cory Jane completed the rout in the final minute with his third touchdown.

Fellow wing Julian Savea crossed the line twice, and scrumhalf Aaron Smith and center Ma’a Nonu once each, with the rest of the points coming from the boots of fit-again Dan Carter and the man who replaced him at flyhalf, Aaron Cruden.

Carter, who missed the previous two rounds of the southern hemisphere championship with a calf injury, slotted three conversions and two penalties, while Cruden kicked two conversions and a penalty.

Outstanding scrumhalf Martin Landajo, who made a series of sniping runs, and right wing Gonzalo Camacho scored a try each for Argentina, while flyhalf Juan Martin Hernandez kicked one conversion and one penalty.

“We had a plan and stuck to it, taking every opportunity that came our way,” New Zealand captain and flanker Richie McCaw said after the most one-sided of 10 Championship matches. “Patience was a key factor in our success tonight, as we often went through one or two extra phases to create openings. We also forced the Pumas into a lot of errors.”

Disconsolate Argentina No. 8 and skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe said: “We learned some hard lessons out there against opponents who played really, really well.

“We tried everything, but could not stop them, so now we must turn our attention to the match against Australia next weekend, and try and finish our campaign on a high note,” he said.

It was a sad night for the Pumas, who entered the game hoping to test the All Blacks after holding South Africa in Mendoza, matching the All Blacks for 60 minutes in Wellington and nearly defeating Australia on the Gold Coast.

They failed in Australasia because they could not last the pace, but that was irrelevant in this city south of Buenos Aires as the All Blacks gave their finest performance of the Championship to record a fifth consecutive victory.

Winning with a bonus point lifted New Zealand to 21 points, followed by South Africa (12), Australia (8) and Argentina (3) with the final fixtures scheduled for next weekend.

The Springboks, boosted by a 31-8 victory over Australia in Pretoria earlier on Saturday, square up against the All Blacks at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto, while Argentina confront Australia in Rosario.

Landajo got Argentina off to a dream start with a try on eight minutes, crossing after a brilliant break by fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino carved a hole in the New Zealand defense, but the visitors hit back eight minutes later when Nonu exposed poor defending by bursting through the middle and sending Smith over between the posts, for a try Carter converted to give the All Blacks a lead they never surrendered.

Carter kicked a penalty and converted a try by Jane, who scored after a superb one-handed offload from No. 8 Kieran Read, before Hernandez landed a penalty to raise hopes of a Pumas revival as the deficit was trimmed to nine points.

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