Will Jordan scored a brace off the bench to help New Zealand beat a resolute Argentina 38-0 and all but claim the 2020 Tri-Nations title. DYLAN JACK reports.
With the win New Zealand effectively won the Tri-Nations title, with the remaining fixture between Argentina and Australia, who both trail by five points. Given that both teams are on a negative points difference, it is unlikely that either Argentina or Australia will deny the All Blacks the title, unless either gets a massive bonus-point victory next Saturday.
On the back of two successive losses, the All Blacks came into the match under pressure to improve their performances under head coach Ian Foster. The New Zealanders certainly used their week’s break from their loss to Argentina to fix what went wrong in that match.
By way of comparison, New Zealand were far better defensively but, just as importantly, they put Argentina under plenty of pressure at the set piece and breakdown. Tighthead prop Nepo Laulala made the world of difference to the All Blacks scrum, while at blindside flank Akira Ioane also had an efficient game after his Test debut against the Wallabies ended early.
Argentina, who made 10 changes to their starting lineup for this game, were largely forced to live off scraps, but were not helped by their malfunctioning scrum and lineout, while the exit plays from halfbacks Filipe Ezcurra and Nicolas Sanchez were quite poor.
New Zealand had much the better of the opening exchanges, keeping the Argentina defence honest with a couple of kicks in behind. A long period of pressure in the opposition 22 eventually had Dane Coles score in the corner from a floated pass from Richie Mo’unga. Mo’unga nailed the touchline conversion and added a penalty as New Zealand opened up a 10-0 lead after 17 minutes.
Argentina had a magnificent opportunity to hit back a minute afterwards as they won a scrum in New Zealand’s 22-metre area. However, the All Blacks had the authority at the scrum, with Laulala particularly having a good outing at tighthead prop.
Despite the All Blacks’ dominance, Argentina were able to stay resolute enough to go into the break 10 points behind. The possession and territory were much the same in the second half, but the All Blacks did their best to butcher a fair share of opportunities, opting for inside passes instead of exploiting overlaps.
The dam wall eventually burst when a clever five-metre lineout variation had Ardie Savea snipe around and score, leaving Argentina with a mountain to climb. The job in the final 20 minutes for Argentina was to prevent New Zealand from getting a four-try bonus point. However, Jordan came off the bench and pounced on a couple of broken-down attacks to run in a counter-attacking brace for his first two Test tries.
In an eventful period after the full-time hooter Tyrel Lomax was yellow-carded for a dangerous cleanout – which may have even warranted a red card – before Patrick Tuipulotu put the finishing touches on a massive win.
All Blacks – Tries: Dane Coles, Ardie Savea, Will Jordan (2), Patrick Tuipulotu. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (4). Penalty: Mo’unga.
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 Akira Ioane, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Will Jordan.
Argentina – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Juan Cruz Mallía, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Lucas Paulos, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Subs: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Santiago Grondona, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Carreras 23 Lucas Mensa.
Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images