New Zealand secured the Rugby Championship title for a third successive year after bouncing back to beat Argentina 35-17 in Buenos Aires.
The All Blacks were in an unfamiliar position as they attempted to rebound from their shock loss to South Africa last time out.
Not since 2011 had world champions New Zealand suffered back-to-back defeats and the All Blacks avoided consecutive losses thanks to Saturday’s hard-fought victory in Argentina’s capital.
South Africa’s win over Australia kept their slender title hopes alive, however, New Zealand extinguished those chances via Rieko Ioane’s double despite a late Argentina comeback.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 30, 2018
There was a late change for the week-five fixture, with New Zealand loose forward Luke Whitelock ruled out due to illness, while Sonny Bill Williams was one of six new faces in a much-changed All Blacks side.
Argentina – who have won two matches in the same Rugby Championship for the first time – had never beaten New Zealand in 27 Tests but the Pumas made a lively start on home soil.
In front of a raucous home crowd at Jose Amalfitani Stadium, Argentina posted the first points of the game thanks to Nicolas Sanchez’s early penalty goal.
However, the All Blacks pilled on 21 unanswered points to lead 21-3 at half-time – Ioane leading the way with two tries before the interval.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) September 29, 2018
After Ioane hugged the touchline and crossed over in the eighth minute, Waisake Naholo got in on the action nine minutes later – the big man too strong and powerful as he barged over, with Beauden Barrett adding the extras.
Argentina coughed up possession on the half-hour mark and the All Blacks capitalised on the loose ball after Ioane bagged his second and Barrett nailed the conversion.
The Pumas put New Zealand under pressure, resulting in a yellow card for Williams prior to the break, and there were some positive signs in the second half – tries to Tomas Cubelli and Emiliano Boffelli giving the fans something to cheer about.
Boffelli’s try and Sanchez’s conversion made it 28-17 and set up a nervy finale but the All Blacks held on as Anton Lienert-Brown’s late five-pointer sealed the title for another year.
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