When you put a limit on the All Blacks they seem to have a penchant for rising above the occasion. There were question marks as to how they would come into this match in La Plata after having been the toast of the town for the past few days. The 34-13 result and the acquisition of the bonus point was was more than enough for New Zealand to remain the only squad to have won the Rugby Championship in its three editions.
Today it was business as usual for the reigning champs as they dominated a Pumas side came out a bit dormant and saw how far they really had to get to in order to be on par with a team that has only lost once in last 48 matches as they showed once again how deep the squad was.
The All Blacks were sharp in their execution and fluid in all phases of the game. Israel Dagg as well as Ben Smith were fabulous as they scored two tries in the first half to put the All Blacks up 20-6.
In the second half it was Julian Savea and TJ Perenera that also scored tries and assured the bonus point that was needed after South Africa defeated Australia 28-10 earlier in the day.
The big story of the match was the kicking performance of Beauden Barrett as he was inserted in place of the suspended Aaron Cruden. Despite his conversion rate being effective, it was his kick offs that did cause some complications for the All Blacks at times.
In the first half one of his kickoffs did not go the required ten yards, thus giving Los Pumas a penalty in the middle of the pitch. Yet if you looked at the bigger picture, Barrett’s performance was good enough, knowing that Cruden will remain the starter in the grand scheme of things leading to the World Cup next year.
Malakai Fekitoa was sensational as he was a spark on defense; forcing various Pumas errors and helping the All Blacks regain possession, showing that Ryan Crotty will have much more competition at the 12 spot during the next few months as well.
New Zealand will now head to Johannesburg where they will face the Springboks in the final round of this competition, while Argentina will host the Wallabies in Mendoza. After this match, the All Blacks will prepare for their end of year test matches that will include their first-ever trip to the United States to face the USA Eagles on November 1st in Chicago and then a trip to Twickenham to face England.
Conversion: Gonzalez Iglesias
Penalties: Sánchez 2
Tries: B Smith, Dagg, Savea, Perenara
Conversion: Barrett 4
Penalties: Barrett 2
Argentina: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Juan Imhoff, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, 6 Benjamin Macome, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Mariano Galarza, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Marcos Ayerza.
Replacements: 16 Matías Cortese, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Jeremy Thrush, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Colin Slade, 23 Cory Jane.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)