Argentina must go the distance against All Blacks

Argentina’s Pumas know that if they are to beat current Rugby World Champions the All Blacks they will have to play for the full match instead of the first 60 minutes.

The Pumas need to beat New Zealand’s All Blacks this weekend in order to prevent them from wrapping up the title this weekend.

The All Blacks beat Argentina 21-5 in Wellington earlier this month but in the early stages of the match the Pumas were leading New Zealand.

New Zealand have an almost unassailable in the Rugby Championship with 16 points from four consecutive victories, while Australia have eight points, South Africa seven and Argentina three.

Argentina were comfortably beaten by South Africa in their opening Rugby Championship match but have since drawn with the Springboks and put Australia and New Zealand under pressure in their matches.

Pumas coach Santiago Phelan and captain and No 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe vowed after the opening defeat that they would be quick learners and they have complied on the field.

South Africa looked to be headed for defeat in the Pumas second match when Argentina were 16-6 up but then a Marcelo Bosch clearance was charged down by Francois Steyn and the centre went over for a try which helped the visitors sneak an undeserved draw.

Argentina then led New Zealand in Wellington through a try from veteran prop Rodrigo Roncero and were only four points behind entering the closing stages before two tries gave the world champions a flattering victory margin.

It seemed like the Pumas had turned the corner when they built a 19-6 advantage over Australia in the Gold Coast only to fade once again, concede two tries and finish four-point losers.

“It is a reality that in the last three games we were not efficient in the closing minutes and we need to maintain our standards, intensity and precision for the whole match,” Phelan admitted to reporters.

“I talked to the players and one of our goals in La Plata will be to pick up the tempo toward the end and play above our usual level. The closing stages are often critical and we need to be better.”

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen countered: “Argentina are giving themselves plenty of opportunities to win games, but in the last 20 minutes there is a lack of concentration and a lead or a scoring opportunity goes missing.

“The Pumas are going to improve in that area because of the quality of the opposition they are getting in this championship and will become very hard to beat,” predicted the successor to 2011 World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry.

New Zealand have made two changes from the team that started in a 21-11 win over South Africa in mid-September with fit-again fly-half star Dan Carter and scrum-half Aaron Smith replacing Aaron Cruden and Piri Weepu.

Argentina have kept faith in the side that scared the Wallabies and bring in prop Marcos Ayerza and loose forward Tomas Vallejos on the bench with Juan Pablo Orlandi and Leonardo Senatore dropping out.

The All Blacks have won five Tests and drawn one in Buenos Aires since first visiting Argentina in 1985 with a 36-6 triumph 21 years ago the only one-sided encounter.

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