Three weeks ago the All Blacks had to battle to defeat a gutsy Pumas side in Wellington 21-5 but last weekend they showed all their class with a superb effort at Stadia Ciudad de La Plata winning 54-14 in front of 53,000 crazy Argentinians.
The Pumas have for much of this tournament based their game around a solid defensive line but up against the reigning RWC champions they simply had no answer to the power and precision of the All Blacks.
Even though the Pumas opened the scoring after seven minutes into the game when fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino burst through the All Blacks defence from fifty metres out to send halfback Martin Landajo over in the right corner the All Blacks quickly made their presence known.
With fifteen minutes into the match trailing the Pumas 5-0, Ma’a Nonu found a gap close to the ruck darting through the hole to put No.9 Aaron Smith under the posts and give New Zealand a lead this would never relinquish.
The return of Daniel Carter from a calf injury gave the All Blacks more confidence and the Crusaders No.10 had an outstanding game directing his talented three-quarters around the field.
The All Blacks second try showed all their skill when their No.8 Kieran Read finished off a superb set play from their backline to send a one handed off load to Cory Jane to score the first of his three tries in the left corner.
Both teams contributed to high tempo match but the All Blacks went on to secure a bonus point at half time with two more first half tries to Julian Savea with the All Blacks in one of their moods which unfortunately for the Pumas had no control over.
The score at half time was 32-8 to the All Blacks and whilst the Pumas never gave up the game was well and truly out of their control.
Having played against the All Blacks eleven times in my career the one thing I can state is that they never stop playing the game until the referee blows the final whistle and with that in mind the second half was always going to be a challenge for the local side.
The second half started just like the first half with Argentina getting the momentum early on when live wire winger Gonzalo Camacho scored an excellent try in the 47th minute, his 5th in Test rugby to give some remote hope to the Pumas.
When No.10 Juan Martin Hernandez converted Camacho’s try to bring the score to 32-15 it was the last time that the Pumas would post points in the match.
Just ten minutes into the second half Cory Jane finished off another excellent play by the All Blacks with a rampaging Savea setting up his winger team-mate to score in the left corner.
Rather than take the foot off the accelerator the All Blacks were still full of running even when coach Steve Hansen replaced Carter and captain Ritchie McCaw mid-way through the second half.
Replacement fly half Aaron Cruden glided through a gap on his first touch of the football to put Nonu under the posts to ensure that the All Blacks would leave Argentina with the inaugural Rugby Championship trophy.
Cory Jane wasn’t finished yet when he intercepted a wayward Pumas pass to race fifty metres to score his third try for the day and give the All Blacks their most convincing win of the Championship.
The Pumas to their credit never stopped trying throwing the ball from one side of the field to the other.
What didn’t help them was that in doing so they started to drip across the field rather than run direct at the All Blacks whose defence was intimidating.
The Pumas should hold their heads up high for their passion and commitment in playing against the three strongest teams in world rugby.
They have one more opportunity at home in Rosario next weekend against the injury depleted Wallabies who are ripe for the taking if they can hold their composure and stick to the what they have been doing throughout this tournament.