Resilient All Blacks grind down Los Pumas in Napier wet

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James Mortimer     07 Sep 2014     Getty Images

Argentina’s expected dominance up front didn’t eventuate, at least in the set piece, and from here the hosts were able to build, however Los Pumas had moments where they genuinely rattled the World Champions.

Their efforts in the loose stood out, their maul at times was devastating.

If you were to believe some of the voices making the call over the match, the home team were fearful for their lives during such moments!

It took nearly five minutes for the visitors to get into the All Blacks half, during which Beauden Barrett missed his first penalty kick.

The first five-eighth had an enigma of an international, a pearl in general play, but missing kicks that no doubt the Hurricanes playmaker would have expected to strike over.

As the opening quarter drew to a close, Argentina showed their full bag of tricks.

There were cross kicks, shifts in the midfield, and that tactic that is now almost a hallmark of their play where they concentrated their attack tight, before shifting all players out wide.

Barrett and Nicolas Sanchez traded penalties in the 15th and 18th minutes, however it was scant reward for some enthusiasm from the touring South Americans – even if credit had to be given to a relentless All Blacks defence.

Julian Savea, who had a commanding match, scored after Brodie Retallick through his huge body on the deck with something approaching recklessness.

Regathering the ball, play shifted to Barrett, who gave it to Conrad Smith who chipped it in for the big winger to record his opening try of the Test.

Towards the end of the first half the visiting team threw everything at the All Blacks, to the point where in possession and territory they had a slight advantage over the World Champions.

Liam Messam though would break Argentinean hearts with a last gasp try in the opening stanza, after Barrett, having a wonderful match as navigator, ran up the field to set up the charging Chiefs forward.

It was 13-6 at halftime.

Messam would leave the park a couple of minutes into the second half after falling awkwardly in scoring his try, resulting in Sam Cane’s arrival on the field.

Minutes later however, the All Blacks would stretch their lead as Savea would grab a double, his 26th Test try in 25 internationals, extending his sensational entry into the Test elite.

Sanchez and Colin Slade, on for Barrett in the 55th minute, exchanged penalties, before Aaron Smith scored.

The home team, upping the pressure in the final quarter, dominated a series of scrums, which led to a strong New Zealand shove.

Read then took the ball, auspiciously shifted to his right, and then fed a gliding Smith to the line.

Argentina would push towards the final stages, they were always willing to try their hand, but the All Blacks backed their defence and held on to take a temporary lead (pending on the result in Perth) in The Investec Rugby Championship in 2014.