A spirited 50 minutes from the Pumas was deflated by a brilliant solo try from Vaea Fifita. This try sparked the All Blacks into gear to win 39-22.
Here are the positive points that each team will take out of this Test match:
1. Agustín Creevy
The Pumas captain led by example with another inspirational performance. Creevy was physical with his ball carrying and his defence around the fringes of the ruck.
The Pumas are more competitive when he is on the field. Creevy is a world class performer which was further demonstrated on Saturday.
2. Emiliano Boffelli’s Goal Kicking
The rangy winger showed on Saturday that he can kick accurately from a long distance. The two long range penalties he successfully kicked helped build Argentina’s early lead. Future opposition will need to careful about conceding penalties from the 55-metre mark when Boffelli is on the field.
3. The Loose Forward Trio
The trio of Pablo Matera, Javier Ortega Desio and Benjamin Macome was a positive combination. The loose forwards were extremely committed around the field. This trio will be worth persevering with as they complement each other so well. Matera is a highly rate loose forward and a strong defender.
Ortega Desio is busy at removing bodies at rucks and Macome is an energetic ball carrier.
1. Vaea Fifita
His performance was the most positive aspect from the All Blacks win on Saturday. Fifita ran for 113 metres including a brilliant 40-metre solo try. The Hurricanes forward ran like a back showing great speed and athleticism. In his first Test match start he justified his selection with one of the best individual performances this season.
Coach Steve Hansen will have a dilemma selecting between Fifita, the in-form Liam Squire and the possible returning Jerome Kaino for the number six jersey.
2. The Return of Nehe Milner-Skudder
In his first game for the All Blacks since the 2015 World Cup final, Nehe Milner-Skudder returned to international rugby on the unfamiliar left wing position. Milner-Skudder scored the first try of the match and played the full 80 minutes. Getting through the whole game unscathed will be a positive after a frustrating run of injuries.
3. Lima Sopoaga’s Impact
The control of the game that Lima Sopoaga showed when he came on after Beauden Barrett’s yellow card was a key factor in the All Blacks second half surge. The replacement fly-half showed a great level of composure in operating the back line.
There was more fluidity with the All Blacks attack when Sopoaga came on. He also took full advantage of a tiring Pumas team in the last 20 minutes. Sopoaga’s goal kicking contributed to the 17 point win with four successful attempts.
These positive aspects will want to be further enhanced this weekend. Argentina will look to record their first win on Australian soil since 1983. The All Blacks will take on their old foe South Africa in their last Test match on home soil for 2017.
Carlin Crossan, Pundit Arena
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