A rampant New Zealand yesterday scored five tries as they eventually ran away to a 39-0 victory over a defensively dogged Argentina, while Australia won a nail-biting 28-26 victory over South Africa in their back-to-back Rugby Championship clashes at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
The scoreline did not fully reflect the All Blacks’ dominance with Argentina producing a heroic defensive effort that included 200 tackles.
In the opening match of the double-header, the All Blacks secured their third bonus point in as many matches to stay top of the championship table.
New Zealand were determined not to be caught napping as they were last year when Los Pumas beat the All Blacks for the first time.
Rieko Ioane, a late addition to the New Zealand starting lineup when Anton Lienert-Brown was sidelined by a troublesome hamstring, was gifted the opening try of the match in the first 10 minutes.
As the All Blacks swept toward the line, Bautista Delguy attempted an intercept, but could only knock the ball back over the line and Ioane pounced for the try.
With New Zealand enjoying nearly 70 percent possession for most of the first half, only an exceptional Argentina rearguard kept the scoreline to 7-0 after 30 minutes.
The Pumas stayed competitive, despite being starved of possession, winning scrum penalties, stealing two lineouts and winning 13 turnovers.
In the closing stages of the first half the All Blacks scored twice to turn around 22-0 ahead.
Jordie Barrett was denied a try when he fielded a cross-kick, but came down on the dead ball line.
Santiago Cordero intercepted a pass from Ioane to an unmarked George Bridge and Asafo Aumua was held up over the line, but as much as the All Blacks dominated possession and territory they could not break the resolute Argentinian defense and eventually resorted to a Beauden Barrett penalty in the 33rd minute to move the scoreboard.
In the closing stages of the first half, which went for 43 minutes, Sevu Reece and Dalton Papalii added tries for the All Blacks with Pablo Matera, one of Argentina’s most effective tacklers, in the penalty box after referee Nic Berry warned about repeated infringements.
With Matera still off the field at the start of the second half, Beauden Barrett stepped around three tacklers before flicking a one-handed pass to Luke Jacobson for a fourth try.
With the All Blacks so dominant, impatience took over and several attacks at the line fell short before Jacobson scored his second after replacement prop Carlos Muzzio was yellow carded, as Argentina again suffered disciplinary problems.
In the evening’s second match, Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper slotted a penalty after the siren for the Wallabies to clinch a tense win over South Africa.
Cooper struck the ball sweetly from 40m out on an angle after scrumhalf Nic White poached the ball from the last scrum in a nerve-wracking finish.
Cooper racked up 23 points in a laser-sharp match, with Andrew Kellaway scoring the lone try for the Wallabies in the 17th minute.
The world champion Springboks scored all three of their tries from lineout drives, with Malcolm Marx grabbing a brace of five-pointers.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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