All Blacks repel spirited Argentina

by staff

The All Blacks overcame a committed Argentina and a power outage to beat Argentina 21-5 in their Rugby Championship Test on Saturday night played in horrendous Wellington weather.

Another New Zealand performance plagued by handling errors came to life in the closing stages as they crossed through wingers Julian Savea and Cory Jane to maintain their perfect start to the four-nation tournament.

Argentina, who drew 16-16 with South Africa two weeks ago, defended resolutely through the first three-quarters of the match but lost their way when flanker Julio Farias Cabellos was sinbinned in the 59th minute.

A patchy spectacle will be remembered most for a halftime break which lasted nearly half an hour due to a power outage which plunged Westpac Stadium into darkness.

Winds peaked at 160km/hr in Wellington which tore roofs off houses and uprooted trees and caused the power cut which plunged the stadium into darkness.

Both teams returned to their changing sheds as the floodlights took about 15 minutes to warm up following a loss of power in the port area of the city.

At that stage the hosts led just 6-5 following a first half played in strong wind and rain.

Conditions were better in the second spell but a granite-tough Pumas pack proved hard to break down although discipline often proved their undoing.

Aaron Cruden, a late replacement for Dan Carter at five-eighth, landed penalties in the ninth and 24th minutes, either side of a try to veteran Pumas prop Rodrigo Roncero.

He burrowed over after the All Blacks had recklessly tried to attack from near their own goal line.

Cruden put his side 9-5 up in the 51st minute and Argentina's hopes were dented eight minutes later when Cabello was shown a yellow card for a professional foul.

He made a tackle on Jane who had tried to pass to unmarked All Blacks outside him but French referee Romain Poite ruled the Puma had deliberately knocked the ball down.

The All Blacks exploited their advantage when centre Conrad Smith drew two defenders before offloading to Ma'a Nonu who put Savea over.

Victory was sealed with nine minutes to play when Jane was the recipient of a neat long pass by Cruden, who landed the sideline conversion to complete an 11-point haul.

It was a 13th straight Test win for the All Blacks, who remain unbeaten in 15 Tests against Argentina.

Following twin defeats of Australia last month, the world champion All Blacks now prepare for a Test against the Springboks in Dunedin next week.