All Blacks wear down Pumas
Wingers run in later tries as New Zealand triumph in wild Wellington
Last Updated: 08/09/12 11:15am
New Zealand came on strong in the second half to beat Argentina 21-5 in their Rugby Championship clash in a wet and windy Wellington.
The hosts had to endure not only a ferocious physical performance from their opponents, but also horrendous conditions as severe winds disrupted their rhythm and caused a half-time power-cut at Westpac Stadium.
At the interval the All Blacks held a slender 6-5 lead courtesy of two Aaron Cruden penalties as the Pumas more than held their own with Rodrigo Roncero crossing for his side's solitary score.
But as the weather calmed in the second period so New Zealand gained control and, after Julio Cabello had been sin-binned for an increasingly ragged Argentina, wingers Julian Savea and Cory Jane went over for late tries to secure a hard-fought victory.
Cruden missed an early penalty shot from wide on the left as wind and heavy rain swept the stadium, but he landed a simpler second effort 10 minutes in to put the hosts 3-0 ahead.
But Argentina responded with a try after New Zealand's Ma'a Nonu was tackled and lost the ball. A huge tackle by Savea prevented rival wing Gonzalo Camacho from crossing, but as the Argentinian pack followed up, prop Roncero showed great power to break through the home defence on the line for his sixth international try - Martin Rodriguez's conversion attempt hit the post and bounced wide.
Cruden slotted his second penalty to nudge New Zealand back in front at 6-5 in the 25th minute, after a ruck infringement by Roncero.
The All Blacks were denied a chance to open up a significant lead on the stroke of half-time when, with Victor Vito in full flow down the left wing, Marcelo Bosch produced a crucial try-saving tackle and took the flanker into touch.
That took place in the corner nearest the players' tunnel, enabling them to dash for shelter as soon as the whistle blew - and they were granted an extended stay under cover as power went at the stadium, delaying the start of the second half after the floodlights went out.
After a hold-up of just over five minutes, the game resumed but there was no change to the scrappy nature of play and the opening 10 minutes of the second period were scoreless before Cruden booted the home side 9-5 ahead.
But they were immediately on the back foot after Rodriguez launched a deep kick-off which bounced into touch near the corner after Kiwi scrum-half Aaron Smith slipped. The Pumas won a penalty midway inside the New Zealand half, but Rodriguez missed an excellent chance to cut the deficit back to one as he pushed his kick wide.
New Zealand were next to threaten when Cabello was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, but Cruden's penalty hit both posts. Argentina lock Manuel Carizza grabbed the rebound and hoofed it for touch, but a freakish bounce inches inside the touchline led to a chaotic passage of play which ultimately came to nothing.
But the All Blacks stepped up a gear as the game neared its end and finally gave themselves a comfortable position with 13 minutes to go. Conrad Smith drew three defenders before offloading to Nonu, who unselfishly gave the glory to Savea in the corner. Cruden's kick was a long way wide.
And Jane soon dived over for a second try after racing onto a long miss pass from Cruden which was ruled not to be forward. Cruden this time landed an excellent conversion from wide on the right to make it 21-5.