Argentina claimed a first-ever win over New Zealand as they powered to a historic 25-15 victory in Sydney on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
After 30 Tests against the All Blacks, Argentina have their first victory. What a result! What a performance! Viva Los Pumas!
Coming into this clash, New Zealand had won 28 Tests and drawn one against Argentina, but on this historic occasion, the men from South America tore up the script and wrote a fairytale into rugby folklore.
The superhero in this storyline was undoubtedly Argentina’s flyhalf, Nicolas Sanchez, who scored all of the Pumas’ points in one of the most memorable individual performances in Test history, epitomised by a stunning long-range penalty late in the game.
Considering this was Argentina’s first Test appearance in more than a year, they could barely have scripted a more impressive first-half performance, which set the platform for a famous triumph.
Playing with intensity, passion and a clear determination to front up physically, the Pumas left the All Blacks looking well and truly rattled as they powered into a 10-3 lead after the opening quarter.
The solitary try was created and scored by Sanchez after Argentina had taken play through 16 phases, while the flyhalf would slot three other penalties in a dominant opening stanza.
By contrast, the All Blacks’ woeful first-half performance was epitomised by a blunder from Richie Mo’unga when he had the opportunity to set up a late attacking lineout, but instead sliced his kick into the dead-ball area.
As a result, Argentina headed into the break leading 16-3 – the largest half-time advantage Los Pumas have ever enjoyed in a Test against New Zealand.
The question at this point would always be whether Argentina would have the composure and conditioning to turn this foundation into victory, and they would importantly score the first points of the second half when Sanchez slotted another penalty.
However, All Blacks captain Sam Cane would score in the 53rd minute to signal the threat of a comeback, but the response from Argentina came through another composed piece of play that ultimately led to another penalty for the imperious Sanchez.
That meant the Pumas held a commanding 22-10 lead as the match headed into the business end, and despite the All Blacks upping the tempo in desperate search of a way back into the match, Argentina simply wouldn’t be denied.
Late in the game, Sanchez slotted a majestic long-range penalty, which effectively sealed the most magical result for Argentina, while condemning the All Blacks to their first back-to-back Test defeats since 2011.
Argentina – Tries: Nicolas Sanchez. Conversion: Sanchez. Penalties: Sanchez (6).
All Blacks – Tries: Sam Cane, Caleb Clarke. Conversion: Richie Mo’unga. Penalty: Mo’unga.
Argentina: 15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Bruni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chapparo.
Subs: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Santiago Grondona, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Lucio Cinti, 23 Santiago Cordero.
All Blacks: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Damian McKenzie.