December 7, 2013
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIPSunday, September 29, 2013
All Blacks defeat Pumas 33-15
New Zealand maintains unbeaten run against Argentina
The All Blacks closed on retaining the Rugby Championship crown after defeating the Pumas 33-15 yesterday in La Plata. Defending champion New Zealand kept its unbeaten run against Argentina.
LA PLATA — The All Blacks maintained their unbeaten run against Argentina in La Plata, with a four-try, 33-15 win that leaves them in prime position to successfully defend their Rugby Championship throne next week when it all comes to an end. Los Pumas, while not generating one try-scoring opportunity, performed adequately against the best team in the world.
Next week, in Rosario, Argentina will need to attack a lot more if it is to have hopes to beat an underperforming Australian side.
Argentina was efficient in the opening 20 minutes, when the spirits were high. Strong in defence and with intent despite a slippery ball as there was some rain when the teams were warming up, they did try to control the game, very much in Puma fashion through the forwards.
Nicolás Sánchez, a flyhalf that tackles like a flanker, kicked the first of three first half penalties when Argentina was most dangerous. All Blacks Aaron Cruden added his first of two penalties before, right on the 20 minute mark, the All Blacks scored the game’s first try against the run of play.
Kieran Read seemed blatantly offside when he charged down a Sánchez kick; the ball then made its way to Julian Savea on the left touch who then ran 55 yards to score an unconverted try in the corner. Despite waiting for what seemed an eternity for the TMO to decide about if Read was indeed offside with the stadium screens turned off (the rule has now changed and the referee can also make a decision based on the replay), Read, definitely the world’s best number eight, was onside and it was a fair try.
The try was a hard blow for Argentina. It took them fifteen minutes to recover, with only an exchange of penalties from both number tens. The Puma scrum Juan Figallo and Marcos Ayerza dominated their opposing props, the tackling of 20-year old world-class flanker Pablo Matera and an asphyxiating defence, helped them control the All Blacks.
The second half started with the Pumas scoring straight away. Struggling in the scrums, the All Blacks were penalized and a long-range penalty by Marcelo Bosch put the Pumas in the lead 12-11. Soon after, Juan Figallo was penalized and New Zealand regained the lead through the boot of Cruden.
Sam Cane was an efficient replacement for injured skipper Richie McCaw and opened a two-try three-minute scoring spree after the Puma defence was stretched; soon after a well timed pass from Ma’a Nonu to Ben Smith put the wing under the posts to stretch the lead to 26-12. Sánchez then added a penalty.
From there on, the All Blacks controlled the ball and the tiring Pumas worked hard in defence to ensure the score wasn’t stretched. They managed for most of the fourth quarter, with All Blacks coming close to scoring at least three times. Eventually, the much-needed bonus point try came in the 41st minute when Ben Smith, again, scored under the posts.
For Argentina: Four penalties by Nicolás Sánchez; one penalty by Marcelo Bosch.
For New Zealand: Tries by Ben Smith (2), Julian Savea and Sam Cane; one goal and three penalties by Aaron Cruden; one goal by Beauden Barrett.