New Zealand thumped Argentina 38-0 to claim the 2020 Tri-Nations Rugby Championship after a commanding performance at McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle.
Dane Coles, Ardie Savea, Will Jordan, who grabbed a two-minute second-half brace, and Patrick Tuipulotu all crossed for the All Blacks in a one-sided contest on a scorching evening in Newcastle.
Jordan’s second-half cameo was stunning as the utility back carved up a tired Argentina side, sapped from the elements, and a relentless All Blacks juggernaut.
Brought on in the 65th-minute with his team 17-0 ahead, Jordan put on a masterclass in finishing, scoring twice inside six minutes before setting up Tuipulotu’s 85th-minute try.
In 20 minutes, the 22-year-old flyer carried four times for 121 metres (the most in the match, and 37 metres more than Caleb Clarke, who he replaced, although Clarke carried 13 times for 84 metres).
Richie Mo’unga dictated from first-receiver, kicking a penalty and all five conversions as he cements his position as the world’s best flyhalf.
Argentina did not turn up, they were flat, and imploded in the second half as New Zealand ran-in four tries after the interval.
A lacklustre, disjointed display saw Argentina run out of gas as New Zealand ran away with the game, late in the second half
It takes two to tango. But like the tango without music, the Pumas fell flat.
They laid an almighty egg on Australia’s east coast as the Kiwis danced around and through them.
The mercury hit 39 degrees Celsius during the day but dropped to 33 by kick-off. The temperature seemed to affect the South Americans more than the Kiwis, who had the benefit of a two-week break due to their bye.
Whether or not the emotions of the passing of Diego Maradona during the week, the heat and humidity, or tired legs after three intense Test matches in a row, but Argentina did not turn up.
They were sluggish, error-strewn, lacking any cutting edge, and their set-piece was a mess.
The All blacks, on the other hand, were fired up, fresh, and looking for revenge for their defeat the last time these two teams met.
New Zealand took a 10-0 lead into the break but ran away with the game in the final half-hour.
They scored four converted tries, three in the final 15 minutes, to claim the Tri-Nations Rugby Championship as the Pumas crumbled after an inept display.
The All Blacks dominated the first half, but probably should have led by more than 10 at the break after Coles’ score and the boot of Mo’unga
New Zealand offered their condolences to Argentina. They placed an All Blacks jersey with ‘Maradona 10’ on the back in front of Los Pumas before the Haka. It was a wonderful gesture.
Emotions, as ever, run high when the South Americans take the field, and none more so than tonight as the nation – and the world – mourns the death of Maradona.
Argentina spent the half defending, making tackle after tackle as New Zealand pushed and probed.
Mo’unga employed multiple chip-kicks and crossfield kicks which almost led to a couple of scores but for some poor handling.
Jordie Barrett and Richie Mo’unga both missed penalties. Beauden Barrett knocked-on over the in-goal as well, before Coles opened the scoring in the 12th-minute.
Mo’unga slotted the touchline conversion before adding a penalty seven minutes later.
Clarke, who was dangerous from broken play almost scored in the 23rd-minute, but the winger was tackled into touch.
Argentina spent the entire half inside their half, struggling to put anything together or sustain possession for any length of time.
Mario Ledesma made 10 changes to the starting XV from last week’s 15-all draw against Australia, and it showed.
The Kiwis dominated the scrums, Ledesma’s new front row got beasted. The new halfback and centre pairings coughed up possession and did not offer anything on the attack.
Argentina collapsed after the interval as the penalties mounted and the tackle count increased
New Zealand blew the opposition away after the break, something they are famed for. Argentina had no price.
Ian Foster’s men came out firing, going close through Sam Cane and Sam Whitelock after a counter-attack from deep in their half.
Ledesma’s men managed to keep the All Blacks out but had made 106 tackles to 21 by 50 minutes; it would be much more by the end.
You cannot play for long periods without possession while spending the game defending against a team of this quality without eventually breaking.
The penalties began to mount. Cane’s team turned the screw. Add to that, poor decision-making by the Pumas, and you have a recipe for disaster.
A series of attacking scrums saw Savea power over from the back of a lineout set-piece 13 minutes after the restart.
It was Savea’s 11th Test try. Mo’unga added the extras, and the game was done.
Will Jordon’s virtuoso from the bench breaks the backs of the opposition
The men in black spent the rest of the half camped inside the South Americans’ half. The Pumas wilted in the heat as well as the unrelenting pressure provided by the All Blacks.
The pressure eventually told. Two gaffes from Santiago Carreras and the vision and opportunism of the electric Jordan.
As the game entered the final stages, Jordan entered the fray and capitalised on two poor mistakes from Carreras.
The first score came from a poor pass from the utility back that rolled along the floor. The Crusaders winger gathered the ball before racing 45 metres to score under the sticks.
Within a few seconds of the restart, he was it again, intercepting the hapless Carreras before sprinting 55 metres down the touchline to claim a stunning double.
Tyrel Lomax received a yellow card for a dangerous cleanout to the head of the opposition to end the game on a sour note.
The card, however, was of little consequence but should have been a red.
There was still time after the hooter sounded for Tuipulotu to score from another linebreak by the thrilling Jordan.
Tuipulotu’s score capped a marvellous display. And the All Blacks celebrated another southern hemisphere title.
Final Score: Argentina 0 (0) New Zealand 38 (10)
Tries – Coles, A. Savea, Jordan (2), Tuipulotu
Pen – Mo’unga
Con – Mo’unga (5)
Cards – Lomax (Yellow, 81′)
Referee: Nic Berry (RA)
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner (RA)
Assistant Ref 2: Ben O’Keeffe (NZR)
TMO: Paul Williams (NZR)
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Jordie Barrett, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Rieko Ioane, 23 Will Jordan
15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Juan Cruz Mallia, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Lucas Paulos, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Vivas
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Santiago Grondona, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Carreras, 23 Lucas Mensa