New Zealand 46-24 Argentina: All Blacks battle past spirited Pumas
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 08/09/18 2:53pm
New Zealand were made to work incredibly hard for their 46-24 victory over a spirited Argentina team in Nelson on Saturday.
The All Blacks took an 18-7 lead into half-time, with Nehe Milner-Skudder and TJ Perenara dotting down after Ramiro Moyano scored the first try of the game.
However, the visitors were first on the board in the second half, making it 18-14 with 30 minutes to play. The All Blacks scored two more tries, through Kieran Read and Perenara, to lead 32-17, before Emiliano Boffelli ran a good support line off Nicolas Sanchez to reduce the All Blacks' lead to eight points with ten minutes remaining.
The All Blacks, as they so often do, found another gear as Shannon Frizell and Jack Goodhue went over to make the margin of victory far more comfortable than the game had been.
The victory gives the All Blacks a perfect start in the Rugby Championship, 15 points from their first three games, but there will be concerns about the ease with which Argentina were allowed to break the line.
The Pumas, on the other hand, were uncharacteristically poor in the set piece, conceding a spate of scrum penalties which prevented them from building a platform, but their efforts with ball in hand will give them a lot of confidence as they turn their attention to Australia in the fourth round.
Moyana's slaloming run turned the All Blacks defenders inside out to give his side a 5-3 lead in the 15th minute in Nelson, after fly-half Richie Mo'unga, making his first start for New Zealand, had settled his nerves with an earlier penalty.
The All Blacks just shaded the rest of the high-tempo first half, with Milner-Skudder's try the culmination of some superb interplay between backs and forwards, while Perenara crossed after a concerted build-up to give the hosts a 15-7 lead.
Mo'unga's second penalty stretched the advantage to 18-7 at the break but the Pumas came out firing in the second half, with Sanchez scoring after Frizell had turned the ball over inside his own 22-metre area.
The All Blacks, however, exploited gaps in the midfield to extend their lead, with Ben Smith's burst setting up field position for Read to go over in the corner, while Anton Lienert-Brown gave Perenara a clear run to the line for his second try.
Boffelli's try from a well-worked attacking scrum narrowed the deficit once more, before the All Blacks blew the score out with tries to Frizell and Goodhue in the final six minutes.
"The Argies really brought it to us today, and we expected that," Read said in a post-match interview as New Zealand registered a third win in as many Rugby Championship matches after back-to-back triumphs over Australia.
"A lot of enterprise but not a lot of accuracy out there," the number eight added. "You look at the scoreboard, we went alright there but not up to our high standards I guess. To take a bonus-point win, we're stoked with that."