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Depleted New Zealand survive Argentina onslaught to claim narrow win

The Pumas kept the All Blacks scoreless in the second half.

Brodie Retallick of New Zealand on the attack.
Brodie Retallick of New Zealand on the attack.
Image: Photosport/Pablo Gasparini/INPHO

THE ALL BLACKS survived a second-half onslaught from Argentina to win a Rugby Championship first round match 20-16 in Buenos Aires this evening. 

After trailing by 11 points at half-time, the Pumas kept New Zealand scoreless in the second half only to fail narrowly in their quest for a first victory over the world champions.

New Zealand chalked up a 450th Test win despite resting many of the Canterbury Crusaders stars who won a third consecutive Super Rugby title two weeks ago.

Clinical finishing helped the All Blacks to a 20-9 half-time advantage, but the Pumas scored early in the second half to leave just four points separating the teams.

Playmaker Nicolas Sanchez missed a kickable penalty soon after that would have reduced the gap to a single point before a large, passionate home crowd.

A measure of the dominance of the hosts was that it took the visiting side 33 minutes of the second half to get into the Argentine 22.

At the death, the Pumas forced two lineouts close to the All Blacks line, but the try that would have given them a historic victory proved elusive. 

New Zealand gave first caps to run-on winger Sevu Reece and substitutes Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson and Braydon Ennor, and coach Steve Hansen was generally pleased.

“I observed a lot of things, and most of them were positive,” said the 2015 World Cup-winning coach.

“These are young guys and they were thrust into Test rugby in one of the most intimidating sporting environments in the world.

“We were rusty at times which can be partly explained by the fact that we were testing new combinations. 

“I thought our defending was outstanding, but we let a few scoring opportunities slip. We will grow from here in the Rugby Championship.”

© AFP 2019

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