All Blacks annihilate Pumas in Hamilton
MATCH REPORT: A rampant New Zealand put their troubles behind them to beat Argentina 53-3 in their Rugby Championship Test in Hamilton on Saturday, producing an emphatic display to avenge last week’s shock loss to the Pumas.
The All Blacks led 24-3 at halftime and never looked like suffering a fourth successive loss on home soil, with the outcome leaving both teams on two wins and two losses in the Rugby Championship.
It was a vastly more clinical display from the home side than last week’s 18-25 defeat in Christchurch, where the Pumas’ resolute defensive wall held sway.
Despite wet conditions, New Zealand produced just three handling errors while unleashing several thrilling attacking moves.
They created first-half tries to Ethan de Groot, Caleb Clarke and Reiko Ioane while Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett crossed after the interval.
Argentina wing Emiliano Boffelli, who scored 20 points with the boot last week, landed a solitary penalty for his team’s only points.
The result provides some relief in a turbulent season for under-fire New Zealand coach Ian Foster, who has now overseen three wins from his last nine Tests in charge – a record he will hope to improve on in two remaining Rugby Championship Tests against Australia this month.
Captain Sam Cane, whose position is also under scrutiny, expressed relief.
“It was massively important [to win], we were under a bit of pressure. We weren’t happy with what we dished up last week,” he said.
“This week, we were in the game right from the start and we’re able to turn that into points. That was a pretty enjoyable night.”
Argentina counterpart Julian Montoya said his team learned some valuable lessons.
“We need to keep working to be better. Last week we weren’t world champions, this week we are not the worst of the world,” he said.
New Zealand’s forwards laid the platform, dominating the breakdown in a key reversal of last week, while they benefited from a strategy that entailed more kicking variations.
Argentina couldn’t match the ball-running prowess of the All Blacks forwards, led by No.8 Savea and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho.
The visitors were on the back foot from the start when lock Tomas Lavanini dropped the first pass of the game.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga slotted an early penalty goal – his first of 14 points – and converted a close-range try from prop De Groot.
New Zealand were 17-0 ahead inside the first quarter when quick hands and an injection of speed from the impressive centre Ioane put wing Clarke across in the left corner.
Boffelli kicked a penalty for the visitors but they paid soon afterwards for a yellow card shown to Lavanini for a professional foul.
New Zealand exploited the numerical advantage to send Ioane over, capping a dominant first-half display.
Argentina enjoyed more territory in the second spell but they failed to capitalise and began to fade, allowing New Zealand to surge clear over the final quarter through tries to fullback Jordie Barrett, Savea and replacements Retallick and Beauden Barrett.
Man of the match: All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith provided his backline with excellent service, which kept his team on the front foot. All Blacks captain Sam Cane played his best game of the season so far. He was robust on defence and a nuisance at the breakdowns. No.8 Ardie Savea was a tough man to bring down when he had ball in hand and he scored a great try as well. However, the award goes to centre Rikeo Ioane, who was devastating with ball in hand. He made metres each time he got the ball. He had a hand in a couple of his team’s tries and he scored one himself.
For New Zealand:
Tries: De Groot, Clarke, Ioane, J Barrett, Savea. Retallick, B Barrett
Cons: Mo’unga 4, J Barrett 2
Pens: Mo’unga 2
Yellow cards: Tomas Lavanini (Argentina, 36′ – cynical play, offside); Fletcher Newell (New Zealand, 57′ – cynical play, collapsing the maul)
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Quinn Tupaea.
Argentina: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando, 11 Santiago Cordero; 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Tomas Cubelli; 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Santiago Grondona; 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti; 3 Joel Sclavi, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Lucio Cinti.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) & Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Brian McNeice (Ireland)