Rugby Championship: New Zealand clinch back-to-back wins after overcoming Argentina
Last Updated: 06/09/14 12:51pm
New Zealand secured back-to-back wins in the Rugby Championship with a 28-9 victory over Argentina at McLean Park on Saturday.
Wing Julian Savea crossed on two occasions either side of Liam Messam's try on the stroke of half time and Aaron Smith sealed a bonus-point win with his 10th Test try in the closing stages.
Beauden Barrett, making his first Test start at fly-half, impressed with the only small blot on his copybook perhaps his inaccuracy with the boot as he failed to convert all three of those tries.
His opposite number Nicolas Sanchez, who struggled to deal with Barrett's intelligent breaks all game, kicked all of Argentina's points.
Barrett cut the Pumas open early on with a chip over the top to Savea in the corner, but the towering flyer was prevented from catching for a certain try after a cynical early tackle from Horacio Agulla, who was lucky to escape without punishment.
It took the visitors five minutes to get out of their own half, with Barrett missing a penalty in the driving rain, but Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade would have been delighted with their response.
Two strong drives from Juan Manuel Leguizamon, with the latter seeing him stopped just short of the line, caught the eye as the visitors went through the phases to have a sustained period in All Black territory.
But New Zealand's defence is a tough nut to crack and the hosts held out before forcing a penalty at the breakdown further up field. This time Barrett made no mistake and settled his nerves by making it 3-0.
Sanchez deservedly levelled the score with a kick of his own, before the All Blacks struck after 27 minutes.
Barrett's grubber sent Brodie Retallick through just past halfway, with the lock showing superb commitment and skills to take the loose ball cleanly, before the hosts shifted it wide and Conrad Smith's chip bounced favourably for Savea to touch down.
The All Black fly-half's failure to add the conversion looked costly when Sanchez made it 8-6, but Barrett atoned with a sweeping line break on the inside of his opposite number before putting Messam over to make it 13-6 on the stroke of half-time.
He was the orchestrator again as the All Blacks shifted through the gears in the second half, foxing Sanchez with a shimmy before sending the on-rushing Savea, racing outside off his wing, over the line for his 26th try in 25 Tests in the 44th minute.
Barrett failed to add the extras again, with Sanchez clawing it back to 18-9 with a kick of his own, before he was replaced by Colin Slade.
Referee Pascal Gauzere stunned the crowd in Napier when he inexplicably ruled out a try for Argentina.
Leonardo Senatore charged down a clearance from Ma'a Nonu and followed it through to touch down, but the official judged the charge down to be a knock-on - although Kiwi fans might argue it was justice after Savea was illegally blocked early doors.
While the Pumas were still licking their wounds, Slade made it 21-9 to Steve Hansen's side before Kieran Read broke off the base of a scrum to send Aaron Smith strolling over - with Slade adding the extras - in the closing moments.