Clinical All Blacks dispatch Pumas

By Daniel Richardson

Aaron Smith of the All Blacks dives over for the first try during the Rugby Championship match between Argentina and the New Zealand All Blacks at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata. Photo / Getty Images.
Aaron Smith of the All Blacks dives over for the first try during the Rugby Championship match between Argentina and the New Zealand All Blacks at Estadio Ciudad de La Plata. Photo / Getty Images.

All Blacks 54
Argentina 15

They'd spoken about it happening for a while and the All Blacks finally clicked in to gear with a clinical display as they racked up seven tries on the way to a 54-15 victory over Argentina in La Plata today.

After a handful of scratchy performances in the Rugby Championship, where although they were unbeaten they failed to flatter, the world champions said a big day out was coming.

It came in beautiful fashion in South America as the Steve Hansen-coached side functioned like a well-oiled machine with Dan Carter back in the saddle at first-five after he had missed the past two tests with a calf injury.

Argentina, who play with a passion that was pumped up by a buoyant home crowd, got on the board first when nippy halfback Martin Landajo finished off a scintillating break by 26-year-old fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino.

The try gave the Pumas self-belief after they had previously run Australia close and drew with South Africa in the inaugural Rugby Championship.

But the All Blacks worked their way in to the game and as their passes stuck they became more dangerous on attack as big wing Julian Savea grabbed a double, Aaron Smith found the line and Cory Jane also scored a five-pointer and the All Blacks went in to the half-time break with a 32-8 lead.

The Pumas scored early in the second spell through right wing Gonzalo Camacho before New Zealand resumed control of the contest and went about giving the scoreboard a decent workout.

Richie McCaw, who came in to the game with a slight leg injury, was immense in defence and was spelled after a 58-minute shift to give young gun Sam Cane a chance to stretch his legs in his third test appearance.

McCaw was one of four players subbed at once as Hansen cleared his bench and took the opportunity to pull Carter, who looked sharp in his return, while Owen Franks and Smith were removed to give the reserves a run.

Manawatu pivot Aaron Cruden, who replaced Carter, didn't miss a beat as he made a break with one of his first touches of the ball to set Ma'a Nonu away, which capped a great outing from the dreadlocked second-five who also laid on Smith's first-half try.

Jane, who also scored in the 50th minute, finished the rout with a late try on full-time to complete his hat-trick, which also brought up the half century for the Kiwis.

The romp wrapped up the Rugby Championship trophy for the All Blacks, who head to South Africa during the week to meet the Springboks in Johannesburg next weekend.

New Zealand 54 (Cory Jane 3, Julian Savea 2, Aaron Smith, Ma'a Nonu tries; Dan Carter 3 con, 2 pen, Aaron Cruden 2 con, pen) Argentina 15 (Martin Landajo, Gonzalo Camacho tries; Juan Martin Hernandez pen, con) HT: 32-8

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