The All Blacks defied wet, greasy conditions and repelled Argentina’s feared forward power for a bonus-point 28-9 win in their Rugby Championship Test at McLean Park on Saturday.
With their tight five setting the platform, the defending champions scored four tries to nil with powerful wing Julian Savea, known as “The Bus”, crossing twice to lift his tally to 26 from 25 Tests.
Despite a below-par kicking performance the All Blacks remained unbeaten and picked up their second bonus point of the series, following their 51-20 crushing of Australia two weeks ago.
Coach Steve Hansen said he was pleased with the “intent and purpose” of the side, particularly the forwards.
“From a scrummaging point of view we should be very proud,” he said. “We sometimes get underestimated at scrum time by others and tonight we scored a try right on half-time from their ball.”
Argentina’s one chance at scoring a try was disallowed with the referee ruling a charge down by Leonardo Senatore was a knock-on.
Captain Agustin Creevy diplomatically dismissed the incident, saying “there are things that happen in a game unfortunately”.
Instead of the expected arm-wrestle in the mud in Napier, the All Blacks took their chances to run when they could and then turn Argentina with short kicks in behind their backline.
At times they were too exuberant, lacking the patience that the unpleasant conditions demanded with passing errors costing at least three try-scoring opportunities.
Argentina remain without a win in the competition despite arriving full of confidence after punishing the South African forwards twice in recent weeks.
But instead they found an All Blacks pack equal to the challenge and not even the early loss of senior lock Sam Whitelock to injury could upset their momentum.
The All Blacks led 13-6 at half-time with a try each to Savea and Liam Messam and a penalty to fly-half Beauden Barrett, against two penalties by Nicolas Sanchez.
Savea’s first try was the result of a superb move involving two grubber kicks which allowed the winger to barge through the scrambling defence to score out wide.