Picking out a recent outstanding performer, this week we take a look at Julian Savea’s return to form against Argentina in Buenos Aires.
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One thing is clear – Julian Savea sure loves scoring tries against Argentina. So to see the All Blacks points-scoring machine come up empty against los Pumas on Saturday in Buenos Aires was somewhat of a surprise.
New Zealand’s victory last weekend was only the second occasion that Savea has failed to score a try against Argentina in nine Tests.
His finish when the two sides met in Hamilton at the start of September seemed to mark the end of a personal slump which had lasted from the start of the year, through his team’s Super Rugby title run up to the start of the Rugby Championship.
But even though Savea couldn’t find the whitewash at the Estádio José Amalfitani, leaving his record against Daniel Hourcade’s side standing on a mere nine tries in nine Tests, he remained a potent force, which is saying a lot considering he wasn’t directly involved in any of the All Blacks’ tries.
On the three occasions that Savea broke free, part of his ten runs on the night, he gained an impressive grand total of 139 metres. On top of that the 26-year-old managed to beat three defenders.
Waisake Naholo’s return to fitness doesn’t guarantee that Savea will start in Durban against South Africa given the success of the combination featuring Israel Dagg on the wing with Ben Smith at full-back, but Buenos Aires helped to reemphasise that Savea is back to his best.
Oh, and that overall record of his? Now 43 tries in 48 Tests. Any time he goes without a five-pointer, the next team he faces should be on high alert.