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All Blacks extend run with Argentina win


Kieran Read was in fine form as the All Blacks extended their winning run in the Rugby Championship

Kieran Read was in fine form as the All Blacks extended their winning run in the Rugby Championship

Kieran Read was in fine form as the All Blacks extended their winning run in the Rugby Championship

Kieran Read delivered an inspirational performance to break Argentina's spirit as New Zealand claimed a 28-13 victory in their Rugby Championship tussle in Hamilton.

Twice, at vital stages of the game, Read demonstrated his handling skill, vision and patience in creating two tries, making light of difficult conditions caused by drizzle throughout the game.

The first, when the All Blacks were 7-3 down, saw him slip a sweet pass behind a defender to put scrum-half Aaron Smith in at the corner for a try.

Then, 13 minutes into the second half when the Pumas had crept back to 18-13 down, he charged down an attempted clearing kick, gathered the ball and took flight for the goal-line.

He was dragged down short but the ball was spun superbly across the All Blacks backline and left wing Julian Savea crossed for the perfect try.

But if Read warranted exceptional praise, hard-tackling Richie McCaw and hard-running blindside flanker Steven Luatua, whose rapid rise continued, were not far behind. However, McCaw suffered a severe-looking injury in the 59th minute and limped off.

The demands of the game summoned the All Blacks loose men to produce a doughty response in reply to the efforts of their hard-bitten opposites.

Argentina captain Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe gave a demonstration of why he is such an inspirational leader to his side, chasing forever in the loose and hitting the clean-out areas hard. However, he was lucky to stay on the field after a jersey pull on Francis Saili with six minutes of the game left.

Number eight Juan Manuel Leguizamon was a tough customer off the back of an often outstanding Pumas scrum, and he was superb in support to score the opening try in the sixth minute.

Argentina capitalised on a long pass from Dan Carter to centre Saili who dropped it cold. Prop Juan Figallo picked up the ball and it was quickly transferred to Leguizamon who was unchallenged to score.

Set back by that initial blow, New Zealand dominated the ball subsequently. Carter missed two early kicks at goal but he did land one, to become the first player to pass 1,400 Test points, and he had no hesitation in taking the ball to the line.

In the 23rd minute that ploy had a double consequence. Hooker Eusebio Guinazu was ruled to have committed a professional foul and was sin-binned.

New Zealand kicked to the corner and from the lineout drive number eight Read emerged off the back of the maul, charged around the blindside and flicked a miracle ball behind the Pumas defender, finding half-back Aaron Smith on the sideline to touch down.

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Three minutes later Carter opened another gap and raced 40 metres downfield and went to ground.

From the maul the ball was cleared for Luatua, who appeared to relish the confrontational nature of the Argentinian clean-out work around the breakdown area, to link with wing Ben Smith.

Ben Smith centre-kicked and in the failure of the Pumas defenders to control the ball it was Aaron Smith who touched down for his second.

After a spell of early New Zealand pressure in the second half, the teams traded penalties and then Read made his dart for the line that led to Savea's try.

Lobbe's pull on Saili's shirt late on teed up replacement fly-half Beauden Barrett to kick the penalty that ended any lingering Argentinian hopes.

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