The All Blacks served up some much-needed revenge on Argentina for their shock loss two weeks ago, with a thumping 38-0 win in Newcastle.
Dane Coles set the tone after just two minutes as he touched down on the right wing, before a Richie Mo’unga penalty saw New Zealand go in 10-0 up at the break.
Ardie Savea added another moments later before replacement Will Jordan flashed into action with two quick tries before Patrick Tuipulotu rounded out the comprehensive win.
It is the first time Argentina have lost to nil as the All Blacks closed out their Tri Nations on top of the table.
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Before the match, the All Blacks delivered a touching tribute to Diego Maradona, placing an All Blacks jersey with his name and famous number 10 on the ground in front of the Argentina team before completing their traditional haka.
Once the match began, it was clear the All Blacks had brought renewed aggression and intensity after two disappointing performances in their consecutive defeats.
Their defensive pressure, particularly their kick-chasing, was significantly improved, as was their carry.
Makeshift right winger Coles opened the scoring in the 12th minute after a great cut-out pass from Mo’unga, who converted perfectly from the sideline to make it 7-0. Mo’unga made it two from two five minutes later with a simple penalty under the posts.
Argentina coughed up possession repeatedly with poor handling errors, and a couple of subpar lineouts only increased the pressure on their defensive line. While it held firm for large portions, New Zealand should have had another try only for Caleb Clarke to cross the sideline as he attempted to ground the ball in the corner.
Mo’unga missed a relatively straightforward penalty attempt late in the first half, rebounding off the left upright.
His opposite, Pumas star Nicolas Sanchez had a disappointing first half as the South Americans struggled to get distance off the boot, particularly under immense pressure from the All Blacks.
Just three minutes into the second half, the All Blacks looked certain to score when they barged through the defensive line only for a chase-down tackle on the goal line to spare Argentina. The New Zealanders were lining up for an attempt at the tryline only for the Pumas’ desperate defence to snuff out the attack.
New Zealand was given a penalty and opted for the scrum, with Savea held up just centimetres short of the tryline off the resulting run. Argentina held off the assault for phase after phase, showing plenty of guts.
The All Blacks continued to assault the line only to butcher another try, Caleb Clarke knocking on after a close-range pass from Aaron Smith.
But they got their act together with Savea running off the back of a clinical lineout to make it 17-0 after Mo’unga converted successfully.
With twenty minutes remaining, the All Blacks were once again in ideal field position only to make yet another poor decision, kicking across field – and straight into touch – when patience deserted them.
With the humidity and temperatures draining the energy reserves of both sides, play began to slow and coaches turned to their benches.
Argentina continued to make sloppy errors in possession, but changed tack from kicking out trouble to attempting to keep the ball in hand more frequently.
Will Jordan swooped off the bench for just his second appearance and picked up a stray pass from the turf to run straight through for his first-ever Test try, the conversion moving New Zealand to a 24-0 lead.
Jordan accelerated away like a Formula 1 car to add his second before another break set up a final try for fellow replacement Tuipulotu, as the All Blacks ended their Tri Nations as they started it.
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