File All black crushed Argentina Saturday to bring back some pride as they roared backward after two straight defeats to put one hand on the Tri-Nations trophy.
It so happened | Argentina v All Blacks
New Zealand won 38-0 after running 10-0 at break.
The three-time world champions entered the game under tremendous pressure after relegating to Wallabies and then to Pum, leaving them facing the prospect of three consecutive losses for the first time in over 20 years.
But spurred by the reaction of its notoriously demanding fans, Ian Foster’s team rebounded in a staggering five attempts to break the victory in brutally hot and humid conditions at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, north of Sydney.
It was a much more disciplined All Blacks that dominated the first half leading to a 10-0 break, but there were also missed opportunities with two illicit tries.
Argentina made 10 substitutions for the team they drew with Wallabies last week and they lacked cohesion, and New Zealand took full advantage.
Two attempts in quick succession from young defender Will Jordan in the final quarter sealed the victory and a key bonus point for winning with three or more attempts.
All this secured the Tri-Nations award for New Zealand, which has 11 points from four games.
Australia is playing Argentina next week and either side could win against the All Blacks, but that would require an extra point win and a huge margin given New Zealand’s huge point difference.
The defeat left the fairy-tale Argentina to a halt in the tournament’s penultimate round, after they defeated New Zealand 25-15 and then drew 15-15 against Australia.
It proved extremely painful for the people of Mario Ledesma who were hoping to lift their nation’s spirits after the death of football legend Diego Maradona.
WATCH | All Blacks pay tribute to Maradona ahead of their match against Puma
Captain Sam Cane placed the All Blacks jersey with the number on Maradona’s jersey, 10, in the center circle before the start of the game as a sign of respect.
Victory eased the pressure on Foster, who had to face calls to attack after just five games after their double defeats.
He shuffled his front pack to better deal with Argentina’s physicality and they responded well. Their scrum was responsible and they fixed the bugs that cost them two weeks ago.
With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) side-back Beauden Barrett crossed the practice line early when he applied pressure, but the video review showed a domino effect.
But the initiative belonged to the All Blacks, and a turning point was soon there when prostitute Dane Coles beat in the corner in her 50th test and Richie Mo’unga made a difficult conversion.
Mo’unga took a penalty to get the team 10-0 in the middle of the half while Argentina fought to catch the ball.
Powerhouse winger Caleb Clarke should have put them further ahead, but his attempt was ruled out after his hand touched as he slid to the line.
After nearly 75 percent of possession in the first 40 minutes, New Zealand dominated the second verse again and deservedly received another attempt from the lineout when the ball was passed to Ardi Save, who crossed the line with a bulldozer.
Jordan, on his second test alone, grabbed the most important third attempt for 13 minutes after he picked up a wayward ball and ran to the line, then scored another by intercepting a pass and throwing himself down the wing.
Patrick Tuipulotu put the icing on the cake on the fifth try five minutes after the beep.
The Tri-Nations will end next week as the Wallabies face Argentina in Sydney (Saturday, December 5 – 10:45 CEST).
Tries: Dane Coles, Ardie Savea, Will Jordan (2), Patrick Tuipulotu
Conversations: Richie Mo’unga (5)