GARETH DUNCAN watched the All Blacks clinch the inaugural Rugby Championship title with a 54-15 victory over Argentina in La Plata.
If you thought the Springboks were impressive during their 31-8 win over the Wallabies in Pretoria, the All Blacks were outstanding and reminded the rugby fraternity why they’re the No 1 team.
The world champions delivered a powerful performance and starred in all facets of play as they eased past the Pumas, scoring six tries. Wings Cory Jane and Julian Savea grabbed a hat-trick and brace respectively as New Zealand’s expansive approach was highly effective.
The continuity on attack through offloads and quick service at the tackle points were – no other nation can currently match them in this regard. The All Blacks heavies dominated the forwards battle for most parts of the match, creating the platform for the backs to run riot.
Flyhalf Dan Carter also impressed with the boot, slotting five of his eight goal attempts, while Aaron Cruden added two conversions and a penalty.
The Pumas shocked the visitors during the opening moments as they scored the first try thanks to a smart backline move. Fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino ran the perfect angle as he was put into space, and he beat flank Richie McCaw and Carter to surge into the Kiwis’ red zone. A quick pop pass saw scrumhalf Martin Landajo have the speed and power to cross the chalk.
However, it was one-way traffic thereafter.
Clinical breaks from inside centre Ma’a Nonu and No 8 Kieran Read created opportunities for scrumhalf Aaron Smith and Jane respectively. Both scores came off the back of great multi-phase play.
Savea then completed a comprehensive opening 40 showing as he scored two tries in quick succession. The first came from a spilled ball during a Pumas attack, and the No 11 had the speed and skill to finish off a good kick-and-chase score. His second was a powerful strike from close range.
The All Blacks held a 37-8 advantage at half-time. Game, set and match.
Pumas wing Gonzalo Camacho scored shortly after restart, but this only proved to be consolation. New Zealand finished the game with Jane completing his hat-trick and Cruden kicking seven points.
The home crowd showed their appreciation for the entertainment on show as they gave the victors a standing ovation after the final whistle.
The All Blacks now add the Rugby Championship crown to their 10 Tri-Nations titles. They’ll head into their final tournament fixture against the Springboks with an unbeaten 2012 record.
What a game we should have between the two strongest Test powers in Soweto next Saturday.