Rugby Championship: New Zealand too strong for Argentina in Hamilton
Last Updated: September 7, 2013 11:22am
Aaron Smith of New Zealand makes a darting run
New Zealand made it three wins from three in the Rugby Championship with a 28-13 victory over Argentina in Hamilton on Saturday.
Kieran Read delivered an inspirational performance to break Argentina's spirit, demonstrating his handling skill, vision and patience in creating two tries at vital times to make light of difficult conditions caused by drizzle throughout the game.
The first, when the All Blacks were 7-3 down, saw him slip a sweet pass behind a defender to put half-back Aaron Smith in at the corner for a try.
Then, 13 minutes into the second half when the Pumas had crept back to 18-13 down, he charged down an attempted clearing kick, gathered the ball and took flight for the goal-line. He was dragged down short but the ball was spun superbly across the All Blacks backline and left wing Julian Savea crossed for the perfect try.
But if Read warranted exceptional praise, hard-tackling Richie McCaw and hard-running Steven Luatua, whose rapid rise continued, were not far behind. However, McCaw suffered a severe-looking injury in the 59th minute and limped from the ground.
Argentina had taken a surprise lead when a long pass from Dan Carter to centre Francis Saili was spilled. Prop Juan Figallo picked up the ball and it was quickly transferred to Leguizamon who was unchallenged to score.
Set back by that initial blow, New Zealand dominated the ball subsequently. Carter missed two early kicks at goal but he did land one to become the first player to pass 1,400 Test points.
Argentina ran into trouble in the 23rd minute when hooker Eusebio Guinazu was ruled to have committed a professional foul and was sin-binned.
New Zealand kicked to the corner and from the lineout drive number eight Read emerged off the back of the maul, charged around the blindside and flicked a miracle ball behind the Pumas defender, finding half-back Aaron Smith on the sideline to touch down.
Three minutes later Carter opened another gap and raced 40 metres downfield and went to ground. From the maul the ball was cleared for flanker Steven Luatua, who appeared to relish the confrontational nature of the Argentinian clean-out work around the breakdown area, to link with wing Ben Smith.
He centre-kicked and as the Pumas defenders failed to control the ball it was Aaron Smith who touched down for his second.
After a spell of early New Zealand pressure in the second half, the teams traded penalties and then Read made his dart for the line that led to Savea's try.
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe's pull on Saili's shirt late on teed up Beauden Barrett to kick the penalty that ended any lingering Argentinian hopes.