New Zealand clinched the inaugural Rugby Championship title with a round to spare on Saturday with a 54-15 win over Argentina.
New Zealand clinched the inaugural Rugby Championship title with a round to spare on Saturday with a 54-15 win over Argentina in La Plata.
The All Blacks produced their best performance of the year to demolish los Pumas, scoring seven tries including a hat-trick for Cory Jane and two for his fellow wing Julian Savea.
Centre Ma'a Nonu and scrum-half Aaron Smith also got their names on the scorecard to complete the rout.
The result sees the All Blacks extend their winning streak to 15 games ahead of next weekend's showdown with the Springboks in Johannesburg.
The world champions were given a scare early on as the hosts started in the best possible fashion by taking a 5-0 lead thanks to a wonderful try from scrum-half Martin Landajo.
But it didn't take long for New Zealand to strike back and once the visitors had found their rhythm, it was one-way traffic for the rest of the game and the men in black raced to a 32-8 lead by half-time.
Argentina were not allowed to get away with their customary spoiling tactics at the breakdown by referee Jaco Peyper, and with quick ball at their disposal, the All Black backs were at their devastating best.
The hosts tried to adopt a much more open style than we've seen in the past but while they produced two very good tries, they were unable to match the Kiwis at what they do best – moving the ball into space at pace.
The locals were looking good after Landajo's opening score from a well-worked first-phase backline move that saw full-back Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino burst through on halfway.
But the Argentine defence was nowhere to be seen when Nonu escaped from the fringe of a ruck to put Smith over in the 17th minute.
A few minutes later Read strolled through to set up Jane in the corner, Savea chased down his own chip ahead for his first try and then bagged another on the stroke of half-time.
Although Gonzalo Camacho shrugged off Andrew Hore to score after the interval, the All Blacks killed the game off as Savea manhandled two defenders to set up Jane's second.
Dan Carter kicked five from seven before being taken off along with Richie McCaw on the hour mark. But it didn't stop the points from flowing as replacement Aaron Cruden broke the line with his first touch and set up Nonu for an easy try.
Jane clinched his hat-trick with a 50m intercept with the last play of the game.
Man of the Match It's hard not to give the gong to one of the backs since they scored all the points. Richie McCaw deserves a mention but Kieran Read was phenomenal and had a direct hand in creating at least two of the tries for the flash boys out wide.
Moment of the match: There were a number of excellent tries – with Landajo's score a highlight – but Cory Jane's first try, thanks to a brilliant offload from Read, was out of the top drawer. It put the All Blacks 10 points up and they never looked back.
Villian of the match: No bad guys to be seen.
Tries: Landajo, Camacho
For New Zealand:
Tries: A. Smith, Jane 3, Savea 2, Nonu
Cons: Carter 3, Cruden 2
Pens: Carter 2, Cruden
Argentina: 15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (c), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Tomas Vallejos, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Martin Rodriguez, 22 Juan Imhoff.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Brodie Retallick, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.
Venue: Estadio Ãšnico Ciudad de La Plata
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Pascal Gauzere (France)
Television match official: Francisco Pastrana