A disappointing Pumas side capitulated to a dominant New Zealand side who claimed their third consecutive Rugby Championship with a game to spare. Argentina appeared to be overly fired up at the start, making some big hits but missing others and accruing a raft of penalties in quick succession. Such was the poor start, the match was all but over after fifteen minutes with the home side nowhere to be seen.
The set piece which had been a pillar of strength in previous matches was not up to par on this occasion. Agustín Creevy struggled to find his jumpers and the scrum yielded little, a credit to the New Zealand front row but no doubt frustrating from an Argentine standpoint. Nicolás Sánchez managed two penalty goals but otherwise the first half was abysmal for the home side.
With no Juan Manuel Leguizamón or Pablo Matera to harrass him, Beauden Barrett was rarely under pressure and had plenty of space to orchestrate the attack in combation with Aaron Smith. Malakai Fekitoa was excellent beside him, whether battering forward or passing to the outside, and Julian Savea proved an even bigger nightmare for the hapless Pumas defenders. If he wasn’t bursting through tackles he was drawing in multiple defenders. It’s a rugby cliché thrown about superfluously, but it was a very Lomu-esque performance.
Out wide Israel Dagg was having a field day out wide with acres of space in front of him, and up front Keven Mealamu was proving that he still had some fight. Both have been in questionable form as of late and it would be hugely satisfying for Steve Hansen to see them respond in such fashion. Aside from a late Horacio Agulla, the All Black coach would have found little to complain about and one can imagine the debrief being very short.
Argentina have slipped in the last two matches and need to find some inspiration during the week with the Wallabies up next in Mendoza. Joining Leguizamón and Matera in the spectator’s seat will be Juan Fernández Lobbe, taking leave to be with his expectant wife. Normally this would be their best chance for victory, but on the balance of form and without their entire first choice back row, it looks a step out of reach once again.
ARGENTINA 13 vs 34 NEW ZEALAND
Saturday, September 27, 22:10 GMT, La Plata
04 mins – B. Barrett pen 0-3
09 mins – B. Barrett pen 0-6
12 mins – B. Smith try 0-11
13 mins – B. Barrett con 0-13
16 mins – N. Sánchez pen 3-13
25 mins – I. Dagg try 3-18
26 mins – B. Barrett con 3-20
36 mins – N. Sánchez pen 6-20
57 mins – J. Savea try 6-25
58 mins – B. Barrett con 6-27
68 mins – T.J. Perenara try 6-32
69 mins – B. Barrett con 6-34
78 mins – H. Agulla try 11-34
79 mins – S. González Iglesias con 13-34
J. Tuculet; J. Imhoff, M. Bosch (H. Agulla 65), J.M. Hernández (S. González Iglesias 58), M. Montero; N. Sánchez, T. Cubelli (M. Landajo 54); M. Ayerza (L. Noguera Paz 63), A. Creevy (capt.) (M. Cortese 70), R. Herrera (N. Tetaz Chaparro 53); M. Galarza (M. Alemanno 62), T. Lavanini; B. Macome, J. Fernández Lobbe, L. Senatore (R. Báez 59).
I. Dagg; B. Smith, C. Smith (C. Slade 72), M. Fekitoa, J. Savea; B. Barrett, A. Smith (T.J. Perenara 65); W. Crockett (J. Moody 1-13, 54), K. Mealamu (N. Harris 72), O. Franks (B. Franks 69); B. Retallick (J. Thrush 54), S. Whitelock; J. Kaino, R. McCaw (capt.) (S. Cane 65), K. Read.
Referee: C. Joubert (SARU)
Assistants: J. Garcès (FFR) & L. Hodges (WRU)
TMO: D. van Blommestein (SARU)