All Blacks 39
Argentina 18

Cobwebs blown off, in Apia - the Pumas blown apart in Christchurch. The All Blacks showed that 10 days is a long time in test football by transforming themselves from dithering to devastating.

First Take: Dagg takes step in right direction

There's plenty more to come for sure. The All Blacks will still feel they are not where they want to be - a prolonged lull midway through the second half will irk them - but they are most certainly on the right track.


Plaudits first and foremost to the pack who dismantled Argentina and not piece by piece either. It was a good old fashioned demolition job, built on the oldest tenet, that the game is won and lost up front.

There was only one team at the races physically. And it was the All Blacks. They owned the contact zone; owned the set-piece and as a consequence had more than their fill of possession and territory.

But the backs, too, must take their share of the glory. Daniel Carter was true to his aim of challenging the line more. Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu had their individual and collective moments and Israel Dagg wound back the clock enough to evoke memories of his best days in 2010 and 2011.

 Sonny Bill Williams of the New Zealand All Blacks looks to pass. Photo / Getty
Sonny Bill Williams of the New Zealand All Blacks looks to pass. Photo / Getty

What all of this meant was that there were times, particularly the periods just before and after half time, when the All Blacks gave a strong indication of what their rugby will be all about this year.

It was sweeping movements from touchline to touchline - made possible by clean, quick release tackled ball. It was fast, relentless, seamless interchange between backs and forwards and each and every player backing themselves physically to beat the defender.
It lacked a bit of polish, but that was perhaps to be expected at this stage of the campaign.

Getting the foundation right is the important aspect at this stage and parts of the All Blacks basic game were particularly good. Such as their scrummaging.

The Pumas haven't changed their thinking about scrummaging for more than 100 years and it won't matter where they are or who they are playing, they will see it as the epicentre of the contest.

The one thing to be sure of is that they will have been throwing all they had - which is plenty - into each contest and they couldn't get close to asserting any kind of authority.


The All Black pack was a thing of beauty at times - spines in line, the tension on and the whole unit rock steady. Not even a quiver of the force being exerted could be seen and when the All Black forwards scrummage like that, the backs can get on with swinging their handbags.

Richie McCaw and Dan Carter walk onto the field. Photo / Getty Images
Richie McCaw and Dan Carter walk onto the field. Photo / Getty Images

Equally impressive was the lift in defensive intensity. The lethargy of Apia was gone - the defensive line was no longer on Island time.

Argentina tried to build their momentum with quick fire pick and go around the edges of the rucks. They picked but they never passed go. They didn't really get close to collecting their $200 on that front as the All Blacks fired into them, hitting them hard and in numbers and most importantly with a precision that prevented the ball carrier from being able to quickly release.

The only downside to an encouraging night was the ease with which Argentina scored two tries from rolling mauls. It's not any kind of secret that this scourge of the game is going to be endless at the World Cup and the All Blacks, like it or lump it, are going to need to be able to defend it legally and effectively.

New Zealand 39 (R. McCaw, M. Nonu, C. Piutau, K. Read, C. Taylor tries; D. Carter 4 cons, 2 pens)
Argentina 18 (A. Creevy (2) tries; N. Sanchez con, 2 pens)