All Blacks restore pride with crushing Argentina win
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Newcastle (Australia) (AFP)
The All Blacks crushed Argentina 38-0 Saturday to restore some pride as they roared back from two straight defeats to put one hand on the Tri Nations trophy.
The three-time world champions went into the match under huge pressure after slumping to the Wallabies then the Pumas, leaving them facing the prospect of three losses in a row for the first time in more than 20 years.
But spurred on by a backlash from their notoriously demanding fans, Ian Foster's team bounced back emphatically with a five tries to nil win in brutally hot and humid conditions at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, north of Sydney.
It was a far more disciplined All Blacks who dominated the first-half, going to the break 10-0 ahead, but there were also missed opportunities with two tries disallowed.
Argentina made 10 changes to the team that drew with the Wallabies last week and they lacked cohesion, with New Zealand taking full advantage.
Two tries in quick succession from young fullback Will Jordan in the final quarter sealed the victory and a crucial bonus point for winning by three tries or more.
It all-but secured the Tri Nations silverware for New Zealand, who have 11 points from four games.
Australia play Argentina next week and either side could feasibility edge out the All Blacks but it would take a bonus point win and by a huge margin given New Zealand's vastly superior points differential.
Defeat brought Argentina's fairy-tale run to a shuddering halt in the tournament's penultimate round after they beat New Zealand 25-15 then battled to a 15-15 draw with Australia.
It proved extra painful for Mario Ledesma's men, who were hoping to lift the spirits of their nation after the death of football legend Diego Maradona.
New Zealand captain Sam Cane laid an All Blacks jersey emblazoned with Maradona's name shirt number, 10, in the centre circle ahead of the kick-off as a mark of respect.
- Coles breakthrough -
Victory eased the pressure on Foster, who had been facing calls for his axing after just five games in charge following their twin defeats.
He shuffled his forward pack to better deal with Argentina's physicality and they responded well. Their scrum was in charge and they cut out the errors that cost them a fortnight ago.
With temperatures above 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), fullback Beauden Barrett went over the try line early on as they applied pressure, but a video review showed a knock-on.
But the initiative was with the All Blacks and the breakthrough soon came with hooker Dane Coles powering over in the corner in his 50th Test, with Richie Mo'unga nailing a difficult conversion.
Mo'unga kicked a penalty to put them 10-0 up mid-way through the half as Argentina struggled to get their hands on the ball.
Powerhouse winger Caleb Clarke should have put them further in front but his try was ruled out after his hand went into touch as he slid for the line.
After almost 75 percent possession in the first 40 minutes, New Zealand again dominated the second stanza and deservedly got another try from a lineout when the ball was fed to Ardie Savea, who bulldozed across the line.
Jordan, in only his second Test, grabbed the all-important third try with 13 minutes left after picking up a wayward ball and sprinting to the line, then got another when he intercepted a pass and darted down the wing.
Patrick Tuipulotu put the icing on the cake with their fifth try five minutes after the hooter.
© 2020 AFP