Thursday 23 November 2017

Smith puts Kiwis in box seat


New Zealand All Blacks' Ben Smith dives to score a try against the Argentina
New Zealand All Blacks' Ben Smith dives to score a try against the Argentina


Wing Ben Smith scored two tries, his second worth a bonus point, as New Zealand unleashed the power of their backs in the second half to beat Argentina in La Plata and all but seal the Rugby Championship.

Just 11-9 ahead at the interval after wing Julian Savea had run in their first try, the All Backs put the match beyond the Pumas with two more tries early in the second half from flanker Sam Cane and Smith's first.

Smith earned the All Blacks the bonus point with his second try in the final move of the match to send New Zealand into the decider in South Africa next Saturday five points ahead of the second-placed Springboks.

"I think that (bonus point) could be crucial. We worked very hard to get that in the end," New Zealand's captain Kieran Read said.

Fly-half Aaron Cruden kicked 11 points, as opposed to 12 from his opposite number Nicolas Sanchez, with centre Marcelo Bosch adding a penalty for Argentina from the halfway line.

The All Blacks, kept in check by a strong Pumas defence, fed off scraps in the first half but managed to go in 11-9 up at half-time.

"(Argentina) came out firing and kept the crowd in it for that first half. It was a top game out there," Read said.

Left-wing Savea ran in the only try of the first half when he pounced on the loose ball after an Argentinian high kick and raced away to touch down in the corner in New Zealand's first incursion beyond the Argentina 22 in the 23rd minute.

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