New Zealand came through in the second half of this hugely enjoyable contest as a spirited Argentina ran out of steam just as the Kiwi substitutes changed the momentum of the game. It was physical and a few of the All Blacks may have played themselves out of a starting spot, but New Zealand have got their toughest World Cup pool game out of the way.
Wembley crowd – A new record was set for attendance, with 89, 019 people crammed into Wembley, but they were good value as well. At times the noise was deafening and there was a truly impressive atmosphere throughout the game. No doubt a passionate performance from Argentina helped.
Lack of panic – The All Blacks rarely fall apart, so when some players underperformed – Ma’a Nonu may not look back on this game with too much fondness, while Nehe Milner-Skudder made plenty of unforced errors – Steve Hansen calmly deployed his bench early. Sonny Bill Williams changed the game, frightened defenders into committing while Wyatt Crockett and Charlie Faumuina came in specifically to challenge a dominant Pumas scrum.
Captain’s knock – Agustin Creevy put in a true leader’s display, carrying hard, hitting strong lines, scrummaging with relish and even throwing a few choice passes. When faced with the All Blacks bearing down on him he gritted his teeth an ran right at them. And what’s more, veteran flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was normally right behind him. It wasn’t enough in the end, but for an hour he was superb.
Black lineouts – Their scrum may not have been firing on all cylinders, but their lineout was a thing of beauty and gave their half-backs perfect ball to work with. They generated good momentum from the set-piece from the sidelines, at one point driving a maul deep into the Pumas territory.
All Blacks see yellow – Argentina’s Pablo Matera saw yellow first, getting sin binned after just ten minutes, but it was New Zealand’s lack of discipline that gave the Pumas every chance in the first half. Referee Wayne Barnes was ready to dish out the cards for infractions as Richie McCaw found out after an attempted trip – and he totally deserved his time off the park. Conrad Smith also got ten minutes on the naughty step after coming in from the side to halt Argentina, right in front of Barnes.
Argentina’s conditioning – They went toe to toe with New Zealand for 65 minutes, but after that holes began appearing in their heroic defences. Aaron Smith was able to exploit disarray in a scrambling defensive line to score his try and gaps were opening up all over for the last quarter.
Booing McCaw – the player himself said he had no problem facing it when he was in the sin bin, but it’s pretty grim booing him during his post-match, pitched interview.
3 – McCaw’s yellow card was only the third he’s ever received in Tests
33 – The number of tackles missed by Argentina
5 – The number of offloads made by Sonny Bill Williams
New Zealand: B Smith; N Milner-Skudder (B Barrett 49), C Smith, M Nonu (SB Williams 45), J Savea; D Carter, A Smith (TJ Perenara 68); T Woodcock (W Crockett 45), D Coles (K Mealamu 68), O Franks (C Faumuina 49), B Retallick (V Vito 70), S Whitelock, J Kaino (S Cane 64), R McCaw, K Read.
Tries (2): A Smith, Cane Cons: Carter 2 Pens: Carter 4
Yellow cards: McCaw (29min), C Smith (37min)
Argentina: J Tuculet (L Amorosino 69); S Cordero, M Bosch, JM Hernandez, J Imhoff; N Sanchez (De la Fuente 69), T Cubelli (M Landejo 61); M Ayerza, A Creevy (L Noguera Paz 69), N Tetaz Chaparro (R Herrera 54), G Petti (M Galarza 22), T Lavanini, P Matera (JM Leguizamon 58), JM Fernandez Lobbe, L Senatore (J Montoya 64).
Tries (1): Petti Cons: Sanchez Pens: Sanchez 3
Yellow card: P Matera (10min)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Man of the match: Brodie Retallick
Attendance: 89, 019
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