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All Blacks in tight win over Pumas, Wallabies squeak past South Africa

New Zealand again struggled to put Argentina away before they eventually ground out a 28-9 win in their tightly contested Rugby Championship clash

By Greg Stutchbury

WINGER Julian Savea scored two tries as New Zealand again struggled to put Argentina away before they eventually ground out a 28-9 win in their tightly contested Rugby Championship clash at McLean Park in Napier on Saturday.

Liam Messam and Aaron Smith also scored tries for the All Blacks to secure a vital four-try bonus point, though the home side had a poor game with the boot.

Beauden Barrett, making his first start at flyhalf, kicked a penalty but missed four other kicks, before he was replaced by Colin Slade, who kicked a penalty and a conversion, though he also missed a penalty.

Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez slotted three penalties for the Pumas, who were also unlucky to have a try to Leonardo Senatore inexplicably ruled out by referee Pascal Gauzere, who said the number eight’s charge down of a clearing kick was a knock on.

“There are things that happen on the game, unfortunately the referee didn’t see it, but that’s all,” Argentina captain Agustin Creevy told reporters, before adding it could have changed their momentum.
“But we had an excellent first half then we made some easy mistakes with the tries they scored off the first phase.
“We didn’t take advanatge of the situation when we did score. That would’ve been the difference and we could have been closer on the scoreboard.”

The All Blacks have struggled to put Argentina away in recent games in New Zealand and the pattern continued on Saturday as the heavy rain that had threatened to influence the game duly arrived in the late afternoon and dropped balls and a tough forward battle were the predominant features of the match.

“Very happy with the final result,” All Blacks’ coach Steve Hansen said. “We have played these guys three years in a row in not great conditions and this is the first time we have got a bonus point so fairly happy to have picked that up.”

“Once you get four tries in conditions like this you’re going to be happy,” All Blacks’ captain Richie McCaw said. “It was always going to be scrappy and there were patches there where we didn’t look after the ball but they stuck at it.
“We had an Argentina side who certainly came to play and they put real pressure on us at the contact area, but we expected that.
“There was a wee patch in the second half where we didn’t get much luck at scrum time but I’m proud of the ways the guys came back and won a couple of big scrums that resulted in tries and that was satisfying.”

Later on Saturday, Rob Horne scored a try two minutes from time that Bernard Foley converted to give Australia a 24-23 victory over South Africa at a rain-soaked Subiaco Oval in Perth.

Israel Folau crossed for his 15th Test try after two minutes but for much of the rest of the evening Australia were chasing the game and it was only when winger Horne went over in their best move of the match that victory looked likely.

Flyhalf Foley, who also kicked four penalties, stepped up to nervelessly slot the conversion and give coach Ewen McKenzie his first win over one of the southern hemisphere superpowers since he took over last year.

South Africa had a try from winger Cornal Hendricks and six penalties from the boot of Morne Steyn but will rue the yellow card to winger Bryan Habana, playing his 100th Test, in the 65th minute that let the home side back into the match.

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