UP and away Aggressive All Blacks power past Argentina in Christchurch

The All Blacks have beaten Argentina 39-18 in the first match of the Rugby Championship.

Given the circumstances, no-one’s jaws sagged when the All Blacks overwhelmed Argentina 39-18 in Christchurch on Friday night.

The All Blacks weren’t perfect – they are sure to look over their defensive structures after Argentina captain and hooker Agustin Creevy scored two tries from lineout drives in the second half – but there would have been a high-level of satisfaction about the way they allowed Richie McCaw and Dan Carter to farewell AMI Stadium as winners.

The New Zealanders collected five tries, one to McCaw himself, and even replacement hooker Codie Taylor – having minutes earlier had a try disallowed – got into celebration mode by scoring a five-pointer on test debut.

But with all due respect to Taylor, or anyone else on the park, this wasn’t about them. It was all about sending McCaw and Carter out on a top note.

No, it wasn’t that but for long periods it was pretty close. A messy period mid-way through the second half resulted in the All Blacks losing their momentum, and that was when Creevy scored his tries, yet they regathered their thoughts and dominated the final 17 minutes to wrap-up the result.

One of the major highlights was the way rookie wing Waisake Naholo, before he limped off in the second half, proved he could look so comfortable at this level; he went close to scoring a try, took the high ball well and ran with supreme confidence.

IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ
Dan Carter and Richie McCaw pose for a photo after their last All Blacks test in Christchurch.

Fullback Israel Dagg, especially in the first spell, showed glimpses of his raw talent too – a warning he shouldn’t be wiped out from World Cup contention.

The scrum was okay but All Blacks forwards boss Milke Cron will seek improvements before his pack meet the Springboks in Johannesburg next weekend.

A script writer penning a storyline about McCaw’s final outing in the Garden City would have wanted to avoid making it too corny, but the man himself was determined to make that task as difficult as possible.

The iconic flanker burst over in the first half when a sweetly-timed lineout move off a Jerome Kaino delivery empowered him to charge over – with some assistance by Kieran Read – for his 27th test try.

Not surprisingly the 17,500 crowd had no hesitation in jumping to their feet – and to hell with any spilled beers or split pies – to shout their approval.

The midfield combination of Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu was reasonably slick in the first half, yet it was their individual touches that made them stand-out. The giant SBW was something of a slow-burner for the Chiefs this year, no doubt a byproduct of a back injury, but he sparked-up in the Canterbury chill by galloping hard at the line and issuing those trademark one-handed offloads.

Nonu spilled an early ball, and maybe that was a reflection of the dew, before slowly ratcheting up his game to the point where he was unstoppable during a short burst to the line. The four defenders who were stuck to his front bumper looked like unfortunate midgies who had splattered into a car windscreen.

That summed-up the tourists’ night. They huffed and puffed for the first 30 minutes, but being forced to defend for such lengthy periods eventually took a terrible toll as they simply looked like they were trying to play out the clock.

Flankers Juan Manuel Leguizamon and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe kept chipping away at the coal face, and hooker Creevy, threw himself about but eventually they had few answers on attack.

All Blacks 39 (Richie McCaw, Ma’a Nonu, Charles Piutau, Kieran Read, Codie Taylor tries; Dan Carter 4 con, 2 pen) Argentina 18 (Agustin Creevy 2 tries; Nicolas Sanchez con, 2 pen). HT: 18-6.

– Stuff

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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