New Zealand are Tri-Nations champions in waiting after 38-0 victory over the Pumas

All Blacks pay tribute to Maradona before beating Argentina

New Zealand paid tribute to Diego Maradona before their Tri-Nations match against Argentina at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, Australia.

The sporting icon died aged 60 last week and New Zealand captain Sam Cane presented the Pumas with an All Blacks jersey featuring the number ‘10’ – the Argentina footballer’s shirt number – and ‘Maradona’ before his team performed the haka.

As for the match itself, the All Blacks bounced back from two straight defeats to beat the Pumas 38-0 and put themselves in pole position to win the Tri-Nations.

Argentina were unable to dominate the tackle area as they did in recording a first-ever victory over New Zealand two weeks ago and while their defence stood up well for 60 minutes the All Blacks were able to pull clear with four tries in the final quarter.

Despite dominating the first 40 minutes – they had 74% possession and made only 16 tackles to Argentina’s 90 – New Zealand led just 10-0 at the break.

Dane Coles scored the only try of the half when he was found in space on the wing…

The Pumas defended impressively to deny the All Blacks any further tries until the 62nd minute, but Ardie Savea then went over from a set lineout move and New Zealand broke clear in the last quarter.

Will Jordan scored two tries in two minutes after arriving from the bench. The first came as he pounced on a loose ball and ran under the posts after an Argentina attack broke down; the second when he intercepted a Pumas pass and sprinted clear down the wing.

Patrick Tuipulotu added the final flourish with a try in the 85th minute after a multi-phased attack from their own half.

The bonus-point victory puts the All Blacks five points clear at the top of the table and it will take something incredible from either Argentina or Australia in the final Tri-Nations match next weekend to deny New Zealand the title.

The only way one of those teams can usurp the All Blacks is with a bonus-point victory by a huge margin. New Zealand have a comfortable points difference of +64 while Australia (-36) and Argentina (-28) are both in negative figures so will need to triumph by 101 or 93 points respectively to take the trophy.

It’s fair to say New Zealand are the Tri-Nations champions in waiting.

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