All Blacks Rediscover Mojo to Overrun Pumas 38-0
They say lightening strikes twice and not thrice. So, it proved to be as New Zealand rediscovered their mojo to ensure there was no repeat of its shock reverse to Argentina a fortnight ago, as they decisively beat the Pumas 38-0 in Newcastle on Saturday to take a firm grip of the Tri-Nations with one match remaining.
This was also the All Blacks second highest ever winning margin over Los Pumas, and their first since 2012, with their previous best being a 54-15 blowout in La Plata.
Argentina though they tried as hard as they did, would still be dejected to be held scoreless for the first time ever against their great opponents, since the two nations began their fierce rugby rivalry in 1985.
New Zealand scored five tries to secure a bonus point in what was a far more assured turn after a 25-15 loss a fortnight earlier had put its hopes of a successful Tri-Nations campaign in serious jeopardy.
Tries for Dane Coles, Ardie Savea, Patrick Tuipulotu, a brace for Will Jordan and 13 points from kicker Richie Mo’unga made sure the All Blacks avoided losing three consecutive tests for the first time this century.
The All Blacks moved to 11 points on the Tri-Nations standings, five points ahead of Australia and Argentina, which play the final match of the tournament next week in Sydney.
New Zealand paid tribute to Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona when captain Sam Cane laid an All Black jersey — number 10 — on the field before the start of the test. Maradona died Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60.
As the All Blacks lined up to perform the haka, Cane stepped out, walked toward midfield and laid down the jersey — with Maradona’s name — as Argentine players stood arm-in-arm and watched. Several of the Pumas players nodded in acknowledgment of the gesture.
All the early running was with the All Blacks as they enjoyed nearly all possession and territory, but the first points came through an unlikely source with hooker Coles diving over in the corner from a fired cutout pass by Mo’unga in the 12th minute. Mo’unga added the conversion before slotting another penalty moments later, to give the All Blacks a 10-0 lead.
Caleb Clarke almost extended the lead in the 24th minute after combining with Mo’unga, but the winger was adjudged to have put his foot in touch before grounding the ball in the corner.
Argentina worked its way into the match as the half progressed without ever really threatening to score, but left some marks on their All Blacks counterparts with some crunching tackles.
Mo’unga had a penalty attempt to extend the lead further, but his kick hit the post to leave the score at 10-0 at the break.
It took another 12 minutes into the second half for the All Blacks to break through again when dynamic loose forward Savea crashed over from close range following a lineout. Mo’unga again added the conversion for a 17-0 lead.
Substitute winger Jordanthen profited from two midfield mistakes in two minutes by a tiring Argentina to race away and score - his first All Black tries - and secure a bonus point for New Zealand.
In the 68th minute, Jordan scooped a loose ball and sprinted away to score under the posts.Two minutes later, the winger intercepted a Pumas pass and showed lightning pace to out-sprint the Argentine defenders and score in the corner for a 31-0 lead.
Tyrel Lomax received a late yellow card for contact with Lucio Sordoni as he tried to clean out a breakdown prior to Rieko Ioane crashing over.
Substitute forward Tuipulotu scored in the fifth minute after the siren to add some flourish for a superior All Blacks display.
Victory eased the pressure on Foster, who had been facing calls for his axing after just five games in charge following their twin defeats.
He shuffled his forward pack to better deal with Argentina’s physicality and they responded well.
The All Blacks moved to 11 points on the Tri-Nations standings, five points ahead of Australia and Argentina, which play the final match of the tournament next week in Sydney, with both teams needing a bonus point victory to have any chance of topping the All Blacks in the standings.