Wednesday 21 February 2018

All Blacks retain rugby championship with ease

Hansen: “We ended up with a half of rugby that we aren’t overly excited about.” Photo: Getty Images
Hansen: “We ended up with a half of rugby that we aren’t overly excited about.” Photo: Getty Images

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

New Zealand retained the Rugby Championship with two matches to spare as South Africa and Australia drew 27-27 in Bloemfontein.

The All Blacks result against Argentina was then immaterial but they were in ruthless form as four first half tries saw off the Pumas 36-10 at Velez Sarsfield but coach Steve Hansen bemoaned his side's performance in the second period.

"We ended up with a half of rugby that we aren't overly excited about," Hansen said.

"But we've got some great lessons out of it for a young group of players ... losing your skipper was great for us because we ended up needing someone to lead the team. I'm very proud we played very well in the first half and did things right."

Captain Kieran Read scored two tries and earned a yellow card as New Zealand once again demonstrated their strength in depth with several first choice players rested.

Read's double and Damian McKenzie and Waisake Naholo tries gave them a 29-3 lead by the interval and David Havili scored a debut try late on.

Argentina's Juan Manuel Leguizamon marked his 80th Test match with a second-half try but the hosts were well beaten.

Brodie Retallick was one of six players who did not travel to Buenos Aires and the lock will also miss the All Blacks' final Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks next week after his wife Niki suffered a pregnancy loss.

"Brodie and his wife Niki have lost their baby boy prematurely, which is incredibly sad news," Hansen said in a statement.

"As a result, Brodie will stay home with Niki and rejoin the team when the time is right. We're really feeling for them at this sad time and our thoughts are with them and their families."

The All Blacks were gifted their fifth title in six years thanks to the Springboks and the Wallabies second straight draw in the competition.

Ruan Dreyer, Jan Serfontein and Courtnall Skosan all crossed for the hosts, with Elton Jantjies slotting three conversions and two penalties. Marika Koroibete bagged a brace for the Wallabies, with Israel Folau also crossing and Bernard Foley matching Jantjies kicking haul.

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