BUENOS AIRES: Holders New Zealand celebrated their fifth Rugby Championship in six years with four tries in a devastating first half to beat Argentina 36-10 at Velez Sarsfield on Saturday.
The All Blacks had retained their crown earlier in the day when South Africa were left without a chance of catching them in their final meeting next week after being held to a 27-27 draw by Australia in Bloemfontein.
Captain Kieran Read scored two tries as his team led 29-3 at the interval but earned one of two All Black yellow cards, the other going to Matt Todd, in a ragged second half for his team as the Pumas recovered from their poor, undisciplined first half when they had lock Tomas Lavanini sin binned.
Wing Waisake Naholo and fullback Damian McKenzie also scored first half tries as Argentina replied with a try from 80-cap veteran Juan Manuel Leguizamon and kept the All Blacks out until debutant David Havili went over for his side’s fifth after the fulltime hooter.
“We ended up with a half of rugby that we aren’t overly excited about,” New Zealand coach Steve Hansen said.
“But we’ve got some great lessons out of it for a young group of players ... losing your skipper was great for us because we ended up needing someone to lead the team.
“I’m very proud we came here and played very well in the first half and did things right. It’s a difficult place to play.”
Argentina’s errors and indiscipline from the first minute when they failed to field New Zealand’s kickoff surrendered the initiative and put them on the back foot.
Flyhalf Beauden Barrett, who kicked 11 points, orchestrated fast moves that scythed through the Pumas defence in a complete contrast to the teams’ previous test in New Plymouth in which Argentina led at halftime before an All Blacks surge in the last half hour gave them a 39-22 win.