All Blacks tame Pumas in scrappy win

The Rugby Championship
by AAP

The All Blacks have run over the top of a valiant Pumas outfit to emerge 57-22 winners in their Rugby Championship showdown in Hamilton.

The world champions were tested for large stretches of the match, finding Argentina's renowned offload and set-piece talent a challenge to nullify.

But the Kiwis' sheer class won out in the end as Los Pumas ran out of steam, streaking ahead with five second-half tries to claim victory.

Ben Smith had a double. Photo: Getty ImagesThe lead changed four times in a scrappy opening stanza at the Waikato Stadium, with the All Blacks failing to reproduce the dizzyingly quick running rugby seen against the Wallabies.

The world champions made the worst possible start in the second minute after a nice exchange of Pumas passes down the middle of the field put winger Santiago Cordero in under the posts.

However, it didn't take the All Blacks long to bounce back, with winger Julian Savea going in under the posts after a scrum inside the Pumas' 22.

The away side, buoyed by their win over the Springboks, produced a tough first half of rugby and gave the All Blacks their first genuine challenge of the four-nation tournament.

Los Pumas inched back in front with two Nicolas Sanchez penalty goals and could have been further ahead if loosehead Nahuel Tetaz hadn't knocked on near the tryline.

The All Blacks' run of wins continued. Photo: Getty ImagesFullback Ben Smith then took advantage of an overload on the right to put his side in front, before Sanchez and Israel Dagg traded penalty goals.

Barrett, who was a subdued presence in the first half, then collected a lucky bounce to bag a five-pointer of his own.

A fourth Sanchez penalty at the end of the half took the sides into the break at 24-19.

The second half began poorly for the All Blacks when flanker Sam Cane was struck down by a knee injury soon after the restart.

But the All Blacks quickly put that aside to stamp their dominance on the second stanza, running in five tries in the following 35 minutes on the back of a resurgent Barrett.

The Hurricanes' No.10 broke the Pumas' line to put Ryan Crotty in under the posts, before further tries to substitute prop Charlie Faumuina, Crotty and Smith ended the match as a contest.

Substitute lock Luke Romano then put the icing on the cake when he collected a Dagg knock-back to give the All Blacks a 35-point win.