Monday 11 December 2017

All Blacks see off brave Pumas in rain-soaked Hamilton

Aaron Smith dives over for his first try. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)
Aaron Smith dives over for his first try. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand flyhalf Daniel Carter became the first man to reach 1,400 test points while Aaron Smith scored two tries as the All Blacks beat Argentina 28-13 in their Rugby Championship clash in atrocious conditions at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday.

Carter, the leading scorer in world rugby, had started the game on 1,399 points and added 10 points to his tally while Beauden Barrett kicked a late penalty for the All Blacks, who have not lost to the Pumas in 17 tests.

Scrumhalf Smith scored his two tries within three minutes of each other while Pumas hooker Eusebio Guinazu was in the sinbin for a professional foul in the first half before Julian Savea scored his 14th test try in the second.

Number eight Juan Manuel Leguizamon scored an early try while flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez added a conversion and two penalties for the Pumas, who face Australia in Perth next week while the All Blacks host South Africa in Auckland.

Argentina had opened the scoring when debutant All Blacks centre Francis Saili knocked the ball on inside his own half and the Pumas quickly transferred the ball to Leguizamon to give his a side a 7-0 lead after Sanchez converted.

The All Blacks, however, seized control of the game by  keeping the ball alive through several phases while putting pressure on the visitors when they kicked for territory.

That pressure eventually told with Carter slotting a penalty that took him past 1,400 points and while the flyhalf missed two other early shots at goal his game management was still influential as the world champions played in Pumas' territory.

Guinazu paid the price for a succession of penalties by the Pumas and was sinbinned by referee Jerome Garces, which allowed the All Blacks to strike.

The scrumhalf grabbed his first after Kieran Read passed the ball out of a tackle by two defenders, then three minutes later, he fell on a kick ahead by Ben Smith after Carter had sparked an impressive counter-attack.

Sanchez added a penalty in the 30th minute to reduce the gap though the constant rain began to take its toll on both sides' handling and the home side held the 15-10 lead until the break.

Carter and Sanchez traded early second half penalties before the All Blacks gave themselves some breathing space when they charged down a clearing kick and spread the ball to an unmarked Savea.

Carter converted to give the home side a 25-13 lead and was then immediately replaced by Barrett, who slotted a late penalty as the conditions deteriorated to give New Zealand a third win in as many matches in this year's tournament.

Argentina are still searching for their first victory after opening the competition with home and away defeats against South Africa.

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