All Blacks rattled but still put six tries on Argentina

Anton Lienert-Brown of New Zealand scores a try during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina at Yarrow Stadium. Photo:Getty Images
Anton Lienert-Brown of New Zealand scores a try during The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina at Yarrow Stadium. Photo:Getty Images

All Blacks 39 Argentina 22

Another win but another mixed night for the All Blacks where they again vacillated between brilliant and worryingly vulnerable.

There's no danger of this current side being called commanding, but as much as there are signs of them being unusually beatable, so too are their hints that they could soon be anything but.

When they got it right they were devastating. They sliced through Argentina with direct runners, speed of pass and accuracy of the basics.

Another win but another mixed night for the All Blacks where they again vacillated between brilliant and worryingly vulnerable.

There's no danger of this current side being called commanding, but as much as there are signs of them being unusually beatable, so too are their hints that they could soon be anything but.

When they got it right they were devastating. They sliced through Argentina with direct runners, speed of pass and accuracy of the basics.

That's not such a bad place to be - knowing the ability is there and the strategy is bang on.

And they also have the confidence of knowing their scrum is becoming a useful weapon all of its own That is becoming a lethal weapon all of its own.

They put the squeeze on the Pumas in a department the visitors pride themselves, although there will be some concern that Joe Moody came off in real pain, holding his arm as if the damage might be significant.

The other weapon the All Blacks have unearthed is Vaea Fifita. The All Blacks had high hopes for him coming into the game, and he fulfilled them. More than. He had a couple of ball carries where he showed the combination of aggression and athleticism the coaches said he possessed. He also scored a solo try of some brilliance, showing his incredible pace to stand up Pumas wing Santiago Cordero and burn him off over 40 metres.

No doubt the All Blacks, though, won't review this game overly fondly despite the bright spots.

Argentina are a notoriously hard side to break down. They dug in on defence, chipped away on the scoreboard and held the ball well.

But it's also true that the All Blacks made it hard for themselves to break Argentina down.

For too long they just weren't direct and ruthless. Again, the overall impression was that the execution of the basics wasn't sharp enough - not for long enough and not in the right areas at the right times.

The attack never quite flowed the way everyone hoped.

There were patches of continuity, little pockets where it came together nicely, but for the second test in succession, there was a little bit of confusion about angles to run and runners to hit the longer the All Blacks held the ball.

It would be harsh to say they were guilty of running out of ideas after a few prolonged phases, but it should be a concern that several times, deep in Argentina's territory, the All Blacks were disjointed and inaccurate.

That has been their bread and butter in the past. They get in the red zone and strike, hard and fast. But too often that goes missing with this team.

New Zealand 39 (N. Milner-Skudder, A. Lienert-Brown, I. Dagg, V. Fifita, D. McKenzie, B. Barrett tries; L. Sopoaga 3 cons, pen)
Argentina 22 (N. Sanchez tries; N. Sanchez DG, con, 2 pens; E.Boffelli 2 pens)

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