Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Zealand 21-5 Argentina

Photo: UAR
The rugby Gods were not in Argentina´s favor today as New Zealand had a strong wind advantage in the first half but it died away altogether in the second. The All Blacks win, like in last years Rugby World Cup took time to develop.  The home team was winning 6-5 at the interval after Rodrigo Roncero scored the only try of the first hald. With fifteen minutes of the match remaining it was still anyones match to win with the All Blacks leading 9-5. A key moment in the secondhalf came in the 58th minute when Julio Farías Cabello was yellow carded, giving the All Blacks a one man advantage. With him off the field New Zealand was able to take control and scored its first try of the match through left winger Julian Savea. The youngster was handed a simple try after three Pumas went in to stop centre Conrad Smith which left New Zealand with two unmarked men. It made the scores 14-5 and effectively ended the South Americans chances as time was running out. 

New Zealand scored a second try in the 71st minute with Corey Jane scoring from a scrum on the Pumas 5 metre line. Jane recieved a wonderful cut out pass from Aaron Cruden. With the conversion it was 21-5 with eight minutes remaining. Argentina had an opportunity to score a second try of its own and came close. Camped in the New Zealand 22, Argentina drove hard but the All Blacks were able to hold up the Pumas maul. With slow ball Vergallo passed to Hernández in midfield who darted back before feeding Gonzalo Camacho. The Exeter Chiefs winger came to within several metres of the line and Argentina. It was not the final play of the game but was as close as Argentina would get to scoring in the secondhalf. 

The match was marked by controversy with Wellington´s Westpac Stadium, also known as the Cake Tin, delaying the start of the second-half for more than ten minutes. The stadiums light´s went dead and were forced to be reset. The same stadium hosted seven World Cup matches in 2011. It was the second most used stadium of the tournament. Argentina can host Rugby World Cup 2023 without similar concerns. The teams will meet again in La Plata at the state of the art Estadio Unico La Plata, arguably the best stadium in South America. It is not the largest but has revolutionary facilities including a 5metre x 7metre LED television screen hanging over the middle of the field. 

There were many possibilies to come out of the match for Argentina. In the week leading up to the match there were countless comments by New Zealanders on, facebook and other social media saying this would be a New Zealand win by at least forty points. The New Zealand commentary team was full of praise for a number of Los Pumas players. Former All Blacks scrumhalf Justin Marshall was impressed with Rodrigo Roncero, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe, Juan Martín Hernández, Marcelo Bosch and Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga. All played well as did other Pumas including Gonzalo Camacho, Juan Figallo, Juan Leguizamón and Patricio Albacete. Santiago Phelan´s decision to change both props early in the secondhalf helped New Zealand as the Pumas scrum was not as strong. He should restrict himself to one prop replacement to have a third back on the bench. 

Before then, however, New Zealand will play host to South Africa in Dunedin next weekend and Argentina will face Australia on the Gold Coast. The two venues are the smallest being used in The Rugby Championship. Argentina ought to change a number of players for the Wallabies with Juan Imhoff´s presence requied in the 11 shirt and Creevy at hooker being absolutely essencial.

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