x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Rugby Championship: New Zealand run close by improving Argentina

The Kiwis battled gale force winds and a determined Pumas side to secure a late victory over the Rugby Championship newcomers.

All Blacks' Conrad Smith struggles to reach the ball against Juan Martin Hernandez of Argentina during their Rugby Championship encounter in Wellington
All Blacks' Conrad Smith struggles to reach the ball against Juan Martin Hernandez of Argentina during their Rugby Championship encounter in Wellington

WELLINGTON // Steve Hansen, the New Zealand coach, believes Argentina are going to improve with every game of the Rugby Championship, after the Pumas ran his side close in their third game of the tournament yesterday.

Two late tries from wingers Julian Savea and Cory Jane gave the All Blacks a 21-5 home victory over Argentina.

They led only 6-5 at half-time after playing for the first 40 minutes in front of a gale force wind which – peaking at 160 kph (100mph) – tore the roofs off houses, uprooted trees and caused a power cut which plunged the stadium into darkness.

Despite the conditions, Argentina dispelled any thoughts it could take them a couple of years to be competitive in the southern hemisphere competition.

“The Argentinians were in the game,” Hansen said after his side completed their 13th successive Test win.

“They’re a welcome addition to this competition. They’re only going to get better and better. They’re already a very good side at the moment.”

Argentina had drawn 16-16 with South Africa in Mendoza two weeks ago, a match they probably should have won, to demonstrate they were more than competitive.

“We wanted to win but it was a very hard contest today,” said Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, the Argentina captain. “They got into us in the second half.

“We gave everything, that’s our goal and to improve with every game. We’re going to work this week to get better against Australia.”