By silencing a cauldron of Argentinian sporting passion the All
Blacks also eased disquiet over the quality of their recent performances
The tourists paraded the new symbol of southern hemisphere supremacy after overpowering Los Pumas by a record 54-15.
Although Argentina had not beaten the reigning world champions in 15
attempts, an impressive contribution to the inaugural Rugby
Championship warranted a rendition of ‘Kapa O Pango' - and the All
Blacks proceeded to pay their opponents another compliment by reserving
their most compelling display of the year.
Their occasionally sublime seven-try triumph at Estadio Ciudad de La
Plata was the All Blacks' biggest margin on Argentinian soil, eclipsing
a 30-point win at Buenos Aires in 1991. It also extended their current
winning sequence to 15 tests and raises the prospect of New Zealand
completing the tournament unbeaten when they meet the Springboks in
Johannesburg on Sunday.
When halfback Martin Landajo completed a counter-attacking raid
usually associated with the world champions, a capacity crowd of 53,000
dared to dream the unthinkable.
However, by halftime the passion and expectation had drained from
the crowd who later showed their appreciation as Aaron Cruden lined up
the final conversion by lauding the All Blacks with a standing ovation.
A Cory Jane hat-trick - completed in the final minute - and a brace
by his fast-developing fellow Hurricanes wing Julian Savea highlighted a
comprehensive team effort where the contribution of the forwards should
not be underestimated given their difficulties with Los Pumas and the
South Africans last month.
Stung by criticism after less than convincing wins in Wellington and
Dunedin, the All Blacks were under pressure to supply a performance
befitting their world No 1 status and they were delighted to deliver in a
traditionally testing environment.
“It's probably one of our best performances of the season,” said
captain Richie McCaw, who had the luxury of spending the final quarter
on the sideline alongside the returning Daniel Carter.
“When we started out [this year], the goal was to put last year
behind us. We've got the tag of world champions and we needed to play
To secure the championship with a game in hand - and by finally
collecting a four-try bonus point - was the best possible outcome from a
road trip that now rates as their toughest assignment.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen concurred, after also commending Argentina's willingness to play expansively.
“We're very satisfied about the way we played. We train all week to
do things with purpose and accuracy and by and large we achieved that,"
“Once we worked into the game and got our composure we scored some
great tries. To be able to attack like that you've got to have a
platform to attack off, so the forwards can be very proud.”
Halfback Aaron Smith cancelled out his rival's All Black-esque try
in the ninth minute and from then on New Zealand exerted control in all
facets as Carter marked his comeback from a calf injury with a typically
Hansen was pleased to give McCaw and Carter some respite once the
result was beyond doubt, substitutions that provided valuable game time
for Sam Cane and Cruden.
Jane was there for the duration, savouring every moment as the All
Blacks rediscovered their try-scoring prowess on the back of the
forwards' greater accuracy at the breakdown.
“We knew it was going to be tough so to put that performance out there, it's good," Jane said.
"Hopefully we'll get a couple of people off our back."
The 28-man squad have no serious injury concerns although lock Luke
Romano, who was unable to return after halftime, and centre Conrad Smith
required stitches to close gashes.
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