By Roger Childs
There was no way the national rugby team was going to lose three tests in a row. After defeats to Australia and Argentina in consecutive weeks, the All Blacks roared back yesterday to thrash the Pumas in Newcastle 38-0. It was the sort of form the fans expect, and players and coaches were well aware that their reputations were on the line. As expected the New Zealanders were on the offensive from the start and never let the Pumas get into the game.
It was just 10-0 at half time and after missing some early scoring opportunities in the second half, Ardie Savea eventually crashed over for a try from a well worked lineout movement. The Argentines had had to make a large number of tackles as they held off wave after wave of attacks for much of the game, but finally in the last quarter the pressure told and there were three late All Black tries.
Passion, commitment and discipline
Two weeks ago the Pumas had played out of their skins and soundly beat the lack-lustre All Blacks 25-15. Surprisingly their selectors chose two new props in the run-on team at Newcastle and they proved no match for Joe Moody and Nepa Laulala. In the scrums the New Zealanders invariably shunted their opponents back meaning that there was quality front-foot ball for Smith to set the backs alight with rapid passing or for the number eight to launch attacks on the blindside.
This was not a flawless performance and there was still too much ball kicked away, Mo’unga normally accurate cross kicks were too long and there were some poor options taken in the backs. However generally the All Blacks ran hard at the opposition, the passing was slick and Caleb Clarke on the left wing was particularly impressive. They were also quick to capitalise on the many handling errors made by the Pumas and late in the game Will Jordan coming off the bench shows tremendous pace to pick up two tries from intercepts.
Unlike two weeks ago the All Blacks dominated the rucks and mauls, and the forwards running in mid field always got over the advantage line. As usual the tackling was strong and the Pumas never looked like scoring.
Ian Foster and his coaching team will have been pleased and relieved with the team’s performance. There was plenty of commitment in this last test of the year and the discipline was impressive apart from some flurries in the last few minutes, The future for New Zealand rugby looks good, as all 23 players who took the field in Newcastle showed they were worthy of wearing the coveted black jersey. It is uncertain who the All Blacks will play 2021 however whoever their opponents are, the team will be looking to play consistently at the level of their test victories in Auckland, Sydney and Newcastle.