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New Zealand seal 2018 Rugby Championship title

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New Zealand clinched the 2018 Rugby Championship title after beating Argentina 17-35 at Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires.

It is the All Blacks’ sixth Rugby Championship title to go along with their 10 Tri-Nations titles in the southern hemisphere’s premier rugby tournament.

The All Blacks were not at their best, but they were clinical when it mattered, running in four tries to one.

The World Champions took a commanding 18-point lead after a Rieko Ioane brace and Waisake Naholo’s score set the visitors on their way to their 16th championship.

The visitors dominated the Argentina set-piece, which was atrocious, forcing their hosts into sloppy mistakes all the while taking advantage of the errors that came from them.

Patrick Tuipulotu and Tomas Cubelli traded third-quarter scores as Los Pumas looked to mount a fightback.

However, the home team’s set-piece troubles continued to plague them, killing any momentum and chance of a comeback, despite Emiliano Boffelli’s late try.

Richie Mo’unga came on for a superb cameo. His grubber led to Anton Lienert-Brown’s score with seven minutes remaining.

Argentina had come off the back of two wins over South Africa and Australia and was looking to get their first victory over New Zealand in 31 meetings.

They started brightly when Nicolas Sanchez kicked an early penalty, but their early momentum was halted.

Ben Smith and Naholo combined to put Ioane away for his first after some smart hands from the lineout.

Naholo ghosted through a gap, played Ben Smith, who played Ioane. The winger stepped inside before going over in the corner.

Los Pumas’ troubles with the set-pieces began early. They were penalised numerous times at the scrum and lost five of their 16 lineouts.

Sanchez, who had an off-day with the boot, missed a sitter from in front of the posts.

Agustin Creevy missed a jumper which set-up the All Blacks to attack, leading to the next score.

The Kiwis bulldozed their hosts from a five-metre scrum.

The ball popped out, but TJ Perenara reacted quickly, picking up the loose ball and popping to the on-rushing Naholo.

The winger was tackled but reached out for the score.

Argentina had stemmed the early onslaught, but some bad luck on the half-hour led to Ioane’s second try.

Codie Taylor was pushed from behind by Jeronimo de la Fuente, knocking Boffelli in the head.

It resulted in the fullback being turned around and losing possession.

The ball bounced away from the attackers and into Ione’s hands.

The winger gathered and raced away 40 metres untouched.

Beuden Barrett added his third conversion to make it 3-21.

The South Americans did have their chances.

After some sustained pressure inside the All Blacks 22, Sonny Bill Williams was yellow carded for repeat infringements in the red zone.

But because Argentina’s scrum was a shambles, they opted for a lineout instead of a five-metre scrum under the posts.

Another disastrous lineout halted their late first-half momentum, allowing the Kiwis a big lead at the interval.

Kiwis too strong in the second-half.

The second stanza was a battle; the teams enjoyed one or two scuffles as tempers flared.

Mario Ledesma would have been happier with his team’s second half, but not their continued troubles at scrum time and the lineout.

It took away any hope of a comeback despite Cubelli and Boffelli’s scores.

Tuipulotu powered his way over from close range after a sublime flick-pass by Karl Tu’inukuafe.

The try ended the game as a contest, but Argentina added two of their own.

The first came from the most unlikely source: the lineout.

From the lineout the Pumas set-up a driving maul. It was superbly executed, but just as they got near the All Blacks line, Cubelli opted to dart for the line.

After a long TMO review, the try was awarded after what appeared to be a double movement from the scrumhalf.

With the clock ticking down, Boffelli scored in the corner after a powerful run by Pablo Matera set-up a ruck near the Kiwis’ try-line.

The ball was recycled quickly to the fullback, who dove in for another five-pointer.

An unlikely comeback was halted when Mo’unga’s little grubber was collected by Lienert-Brown to finish off the home side and seal some more silverware for the world’s premier team.

Argentina versus New Zealand video highlights.

More to follow…

Final score: Argentina 17 (3) New Zealand 35 (21)

Scorers

Argentina
Tries – Cubelli, Boffelli
Pen – Sanchez
Con – Sanchez (2)
Drop –
Cards –

New Zealand
Tries – R. Ioane (2), Naholo, Tuipulotu,  Lienert-Brown
Pen –
Con – B. Barrett (4), Mo’unga
Drop –
Cards – Williams (Yellow, 37′)

Match Officials
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
Assistant Ref: Jaco Peyper (SARU)
Assistant Ref 2: Marius van der Westhuizen (SARU)
TMO: David Grashoff (RFU)

Teams

Argentina

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Matias Moroni, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Matias Orlando, 22 Sebastian Cancelliere.

New Zealand

15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Sam Whitelock (captain), 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.

Reserves: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.

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