Argentina stunned the All Blacks by beating the three-times world champions for the first time on New Zealand soil with a 25-18 victory in a Rugby Championship test in Christchurch on Saturday.
The Pumas achieved their first ever win over New Zealand just two years ago in another championship match in Sydney and Saturday’s victory was cast from the same mold with magnificent defence backed up by iron discipline.
“I’m very proud of our team, we are starting to believe what we can do, not just a magic moment like our first win (in Sydney),” said an emotional Argentina captain Julian Montoya.
“This is not just magic and something that happened from nowhere, we are working really hard. We are writing our history and we need to keep going.”
The boot of winger Emiliano Boffelli, who kicked five penalties and a conversion, kept Argentina in the contest when New Zealand scored two first-half tries, and put them ahead after Juan Martin Gonzalez had scored an opportunist second-half try.
The victory gives Argentina successive wins in the Rugby Championship for the first time after their impressive 48-17 thrashing of Australia in San Juan two weeks ago.
They also remain top of the championship standings on points difference ahead of Australia, who earlier beat South Africa 25-17 in Adelaide.
Flanker Martin Gonzalez turned the match in the 48th minute, when he scored his try from the kickoff after flyhalf Richie Mo’unga had put the All Blacks 18-12 ahead with his second penalty.
The Pumas put enough pressure on All Blacks lock Scott Barrett to prevent him from taking a clean catch and Martin Gonzalez snapped up the loose ball, bursting through the tackle of Aaron Smith and racing away to score.
Boffelli’s conversion put the Pumas a point ahead and his fifth penalty 13 minutes from time ensured New Zealand would need a converted try just to draw.
New Zealand, who chased the game for the last nine minutes with 14 men after Shannon Frizell was shown a yellow card, will almost certainly now be plunged back into the crisis that was apparently ended by their win over South Africa two weeks ago.
The home series loss to Ireland in July and defeat to the Springboks in their Rugby Championship opener had coach Ian Foster in danger of losing his job until the impressive victory at Ellis Park.
Tries from hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and winger Caleb Clarke should have given the All Blacks a comfortable lead at halftime on Saturday but ill-discipline throughout the match cost them dearly and they held only a 15-12 lead at the break.
“It certainly felt in the first half that we were a lot more dominant than the scoreboard showed,” said captain Sam Cane.
“But a lot of credit has to go to them for the way they stuck at it and turned the tables and put us under a lot of pressure in the second half.
“We didn’t respond the way we wanted and they were good enough to get the win tonight.”
New Zealand, who have now lost four of six games this season, get a chance for immediate revenge in the fourth round of the championship next week.
“We travel up to Hamilton tomorrow and we get another crack. We better be better than we were tonight,” Cane added.