Ulster-bound Charles Piutau among the tries for All Blacks

New Zealand open Rugby Championship with Argentina win

New Zealand’s All Blacks players perform the haka before their Rugby Championship match against Argentina at AMI Stadium in Christchurch. Photograph: Anthony Phelps/Reuters

New Zealand’s All Blacks players perform the haka before their Rugby Championship match against Argentina at AMI Stadium in Christchurch. Photograph: Anthony Phelps/Reuters

 

New Zealand stepped up their World Cup preparations to secure a bonus-point 39-18 victory over Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener in Christchurch on Friday.

Captain Richie McCaw, Ma’a Nonu, Charles Piutau, Kieran Read and debutant Codie Taylor all scored tries for the All Blacks while Dan Carter slotted 14 points from the boot.

Pumas captain Agustin Creevy gave his side some respectability with two tries from attacking lineouts in the second half while Nicolas Sanchez slotted a conversion and two penalties.

New Zealand, who warmed up for the championship with a hard-fought 25-16 win over Samoa last week, play South Africa in Johannesburg next week, while the Pumas return home to host Australia in Mendoza.

“We played some pretty good rugby at times,” McCaw said in a pitchside interview. “All in all it was a step up and most of the guys would be reasonably happy.”

The All Blacks played a high tempo game, but could only secure two Carter penalties to give them a 6-3 lead before they finally sealed a period of dominance when McCaw was driven over from an attacking lineout.

Sanchez then slotted his second penalty in the 33rd minute before the All Blacks pace eventually told in the final minutes of the first half with Nonu barging over, with Carter converting from the sideline to give them an 18-6 lead.

Piutau opened the second half with a superb try after backs and forwards combined to create a wave of runners all offloading in the tackle and changing angles as the Pumas were run ragged.

Their aggressive defence also paid dividend when Read scooped up a loose ball as the Pumas tried to run the ball out of their own territory to grab the bonus-point try with more than 30 minutes remaining and the home side looking dangerous to run up a massive score.

The Pumas, however, got back into the game with two tries from Creevy to narrow the score to 32-18 with 20 minutes remaining, which earned the All Blacks a tongue lashing from McCaw that sparked them back into action.

Taylor capped his first appearance for the All Blacks when he scored his side’s fifth try that cemented the victory margin.

“We made too many mistakes and you cannot make mistakes against the All Blacks,” Creevy said through an interpreter. "We are not so happy with what we have shown today.

“We know that we will play the All Blacks in the World Cup and we need to improve a lot to beat them in the World Cup.”

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