New Zealand survive Argentina scare in World Cup

Sam Whitelock gets pushed back in the tackle

New Zealand survived a scare in their Rugby World Cup opening match against
Argentina but held on to win the match 26-16 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Argentina led New Zealand for most of the match and they held a 12-13 lead
at half time.

The result is the first time in Rugby World Cup history that the All Blacks have failed to earn a bonus point in a Pool match.

All Black scrumhalf Aaron Smith started a late revival for the New Zealanders
who had struggled to gain momentum in the match.

The All Blacks superior possession advantage was crushed in a vice-like defence
and their discipline also cost the World champions.

But evetually he gallant Pumas were worn down by the black machine in a fractious
clash which saw three players yellow carded including All Blacks’ skipper Richie
McCaw for the third time in his 143-Test career.

McCaw admitted that his side had to dig deep to get back into the game. But
he said “I thought the second half was a lot more clinical.”

The All Blacks played nearly 20 minutes with a man down and with a two-man
deficit for a few minutes when Conrad Smith was sent off before McCaw returned
to the battle.

But any hopes Argentina had of emulating Japan’s stunning victory over South
Africa evaporated in the 56th minute when scrum-half Aaron Smith darted around
the side of a ruck for the All Blacks opening try.

It revived the world champions who followed with a try to Sam Cane. Dan Carter
converted both tries and landed four penalties.

Argentina’s first half lead was built on a try by 20-year-old lock Guido Petti
converted by Nicolas Sanchez who also kicked two penalties.

In the second spell Argentina were restricted to one further Sanchez penalty.

Before a capacity 89,019 at Wembley, a record World Cup crowd, New Zealand
were expected to win and wanted to make an emphatic statement.

But they could not have been happy with their inability to breakdown the Argentina
defence despite dominating possession and territory.

Julian Savea, who went into the match with eight tries from six previous Tests
against Argentina, was starved of the ball for most of the match.

The All Blacks opening points all came from Carter penalties as Argentina,
struggling for territory, were forced into a series of infringements.

The second of Carter’s four first half penalties came when Argtentina flanker
Pablo Matera was yellow-carded, but it was Argentina who made the most of the
one-man difference.

After Carter landed a third penalty to put the All Blacks ahead 9-0, the 14-man
Argentina produced the opening try with Petti, the baby of the Pumas side, crashing
over from close range.

They took the lead when McCaw was sent off for tripping Juan Martin Fernandez
Lobbe and fly-half Sanchez, who had converted Petti’s try, kicked a 50 metre
penalty to put the Pumas ahead 10-9.

Sanchez and Carter traded further penalties before half-time and the Argentine
marksmen landed his third penalty soon after the resumption to extend the Pumas
lead to 16-12.

Sonny Bill Williams was injected into the game to add spark to the All Blacks’
attack and nearly paid instant dividends when he flicked the ball to an unmarked
Nehe Milner-Skudder a metre from the line. But the winger dropped the ball.

However, it was a sign that the All Blacks were starting to gain an edge as
they upped the pace of the game.

They regained the lead in the 56th minute with Smith’s try, Cane followed him
over the line and Carter kicked both conversions.

Final Score New Zealand 26 (12) Argentina 16 (13)

Scorers

New Zealand
Tries – Smith, Cane
Pen – Carter (2)
Con – Carter (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Argentina
Tries – Petti Pagadizabal
Pen -Sanchez (3)
Con – Sanchez
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Wayne Barnes (ENG)

Teams

New Zealand

Ben Smith; Nehe Milner-Skudder, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea; Dan
Carter, Aaron Smith; Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino; Sam Whitelock,
Brodie Retallick; Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock.

Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Victor Vito,
Sam Cane, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Sonny Bill Williams Coach: Steve Hansen
(NZL)

Argentina

Joaquin Tuculet; Santiago Cordero, Marcelo Bosch, Juan Martin Hernandez, Juan
Imhoff; Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Leonardo Senatore, Juan Martin Fernandez
Lobbe, Pablo Matera; Tomas Lavanini, Guido Petti; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin
Creevy (capt), Marcos Ayerza

Replacements: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera Paz, Ramino Herrera, Mariano Galarza,
Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Martin Landajo, Jeronimo De La Fuente, Lucas Gonzalez
Amorosino

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