All Blacks claim bonus point
September 28, 2013
Julian Savea was strong with ball in hand
© Getty Images
New Zealand produced a strong and much improved performance in the second half to beat Argentina in La Plata, but the All Blacks claimed their four-try bonus point only with the last play of the game to stand in pole position to take out The Rugby Championship title for the second successive season.
The Pumas served up a strong challenge to New Zealand for the opening 50 minutes, but the All Blacks then scored two tries in five minutes, through Sam Cane and Ben Smith, to blow the game apart. They were set to claim the bonus point that would put them five points ahead of South Africa with just the title decider to play at Ellis Park in Johannesburg when Julian Savea chased a kick from Conrad Smith in a one-man race for the ball, but the chance went begging when the big winger spilled the pill as he bent over to collect it with the tryline in sight.
Match Analysis by ESPNscrum's Andy Withers
New Zealand continued to press for the bonus point, going for touch and attacking lineouts rather than taking shots of goal, but they gained their reward only with the last play of the game, when the forwards secured a set-piece to feed the backline and Ben Smith stepped and powered through the defence to touch down under the goal posts.
Argentina dominated possession and territory in the first half, with a much improved lineout from that seen in previous match and a scrum that was as powerful as ever, but they failed to threaten the New Zealand tryline and they paid for their failure to control a midfield bomb after Kieran Read had defused a drop goal attempt; Savea picked up the ball, beat an attempted tackle from Juan Cabello and ran 60 metres to touch down in the left corner. The television match official ruled on two points - whether Israel Dagg had knocked the bomb forward and whether Read had been offside - before the try was awarded, and Aaron Cruden was given a second attempt after an early charge by Argentina. Spectators in the crowd also interfered with play by targeting a laser at the ball as Cruden prepared for the kick.
Nicolas Sanchez faced no such problems kicking for goal in the first half, and he was successful with three penalty goals, including two to put the Pumas ahead on the scoreboard. The Pumas regained the lead almost immediately from the restart for the second half, when Marcello Bosch kicked a goal from 51 metres after the pack had won a penalty from a scrum awarded on halfway when the kick-off went too long. The Pumas led but for minutes before Cruden landed a penalty, and the All Blacks then blew the game apart as they took control of territory and possession. to lift the pace of the game.
The All Blacks broke through after a sustained period of continuity in the Pumas 22, moving the ball across field and back with powerful driving before Dagg, Cruden and Ma'a Nonu combined to put Sam Cane over wide out on the left. Five minutes later, New Zealand produced a superb play from a short lineout in which Nonu did a subtle double pump with the ball to put Ben Smith into space with a short pass; the winger stepped past Juan Martin Hernandez and raced clear for a converted try that put New Zealand out to a 26-12 lead.
New Zealand went looking for the bonus point try but they met stern resistance from the home side, who also landed their fifth penalty goal, the fourth of the game from Sanchez. They would not be denied, however. Awarded a penalty on the Argentine 22, New Zealand kicked for the corner, controlled the len ineout and replacement scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow thdelayed a pass momentarily for Smith to charge into the line and beat the tackles of Felipe Contemponi and Sanchez to score under the posts.
Julian Savea scored the only try of the first half © Getty Images
Ben Smith scored two tries, including the decisive effort to secure the bonus point © Getty Images
Kieran Read lifts another piece of silverware to put in the stacked trophy cabinet © Getty Images
All Blacks survived a stern challenge from New Zealand before claiming a bonus-point win (video available only in Australia)
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