All Blacks clinch Rugby Championship with win over Pumas

The Rugby Championship
by AAP

The All Blacks have overcome another staunch Pumas challenge to win 35-17 in Buenos Aires and clinch the Rugby Championship with a round to spare.

Winger Rieko Ioane scored two of New Zealand's five tries as they did enough to maintain their historic unbeaten record against the improving Pumas.

It also handed the All Blacks the SANZAAR silverware for a third successive year, achieving it before next week's final-round encounter against the in-form Springboks in Pretoria.

Coming off a shock 36-34 home loss to South Africa, the visitors dominated the scrum and were more clinical with their finishing in an otherwise-even contest at Estadio Jose Amalfitani.

As with the 22-point win over the Pumas in Nelson earlier this month, the All Blacks were flattered by the final scoreline.

Ioane's double, which took him to 20 tries from 19 Tests, came against the run of play as the visitors opened up a 21-3 halftime lead.

Five-eighth Beauden Barrett landed all five of his conversions in a return to goalkicking form after a forgettable return against the Springboks.

The pick of a mostly second-string pack was No.8 Ardie Savea, a late call-up to start in place of Luke Whitelock who was ruled out through illness.

Two botched New Zealand lineouts helped five-eighth Nicolas Sanchez open the scoring with a penalty.

However, the All Blacks got the next one right and put Ioane in space for his first try via slick backline work.

Fellow-winger Waisake Naholo stretched out from close range to extend the lead before Ioane had his second when he pounced on a spilled ball and was untroubled in a 30m dash to the line.

The All Blacks spent long periods either side of halftime defending their line, achieving it while down to 14 men for 10 minutes after Sonny Bill Williams was shown a 37th-minute yellow card for his team's repeat offending.

New Zealand's ruthless streak was emphasised when they forged a rare attack and immediately crossed through reserve lock Patrick Tuipulotu.

Argentina sent a scare through the world champions when reserve halfback Tomas Cubelli and fullback Emiliano Boffelli crossed in quick succession.

Anton Lienert-Brown had the final say when scoring off a neat grubber from fellow-reserve back Richie Mo'unga.

Argentina will seek to avoid the wooden spoon when they host last-placed Australia next week in Salta, having downed the Wallabies 23-19 on the Gold Coast two weeks ago.


Argentina 17

Tries: Cubelli, Boffelli

Cons: Sanchez 2

Pens: Sanchez

New Zealand 35

Tries: Ioane 2, Naholo, Tuipulotu, Lienert-Brown

Cons: B Barrett 4, Mounga

Yellow Cards: Williams (37')