Stand-off Beauden Barrett, pictured right, scored a try, made another and kicked 12 points as New Zealand quelled a spirited challenge from Argentina to win their Rugby Championship Test yesterday.
Argentina rocked the All Blacks with winger Santiago Cordero’s try after two minutes and led until the 24th when New Zealand went ahead for the first time with the second of three first-half tries.
The Pumas were still only two points behind at 24-22 in the 50th minute and were shaking the foundations of the All Blacks’ game with their aggression on attack. But New Zealand went to their powerful bench and created four tries between the 53rd and 66th minutes – two to centre Ryan Crotty – to destroy Argentina’s hopes of a first-ever win over the All Blacks.
Full-back Ben Smith also scored a double and other tries went to winger Julian Savea, prop Charlie Faumuina and lock Luke Romano as New Zealand maintained their unbeaten record in 23 Tests against Argentina since the teams first met in 1985.
But the scoreboard failed to reflect the quality of the performance from Argentina who, for 50 minutes, posed the greatest challenge the All Blacks have faced this season after three Test wins over Wales in June and two over Australia earlier in the Rugby Championship.
Meanwhile, Australia ended a six-match losing streak by beating South Africa 23-17.
The Wallabies, whose run of losses began with their defeat to New Zealand in last year’s World Cup final at Twickenham and followed with three home Test defeats in a row to England and then two to New Zealand home and away, trailed by a point at half-time in Saturday’s match.
But the home side restricted South Africa to just a penalty in the second half and were paced by stand-off Bernard Foley’s try, two conversions and three penalties for a personal total of 18 points.
Adam Coleman, playing in his third Test, scored the other Australia try.