COMMENT: All Blacks downed by magnificent Argies

Nicolas Sanchez scored all 25 of the Pumas points and had the rare distinction of outplaying Richie Mo’ounga thanks to the dominance of his forwards. Photo Rugbypass


That was the first thing to spring to my mind after the All Blacks were flogged 25-15 by a magnificent Argentina display in their historic rugby test win at Parramatta on Saturday night.

What made it more amazing for a team enjoying their first win against New Zealand despite not having played a test match for 13 months was that they dominated almost all phases of the game.

Physically stronger up front and much quicker to pounce on the loose ball, their rush defence negated an All Blacks attack bereft of ideas.

Just as Hugo Porta did in the 21-all draw in 1985, Nicolas Sanchez scored all 25 of the Pumas points and had the rare distinction of outplaying Richie Mo’ounga thanks to the dominance of his forwards.

Leading the charge up front was dynamic captain and flanker Pablo Matera who hoped the victory would lift the spirits of his countrymen who have suffered 1.3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 35,000 deaths.

Although it was a miraculous win by Argentina fully deserving of wholesome praise, the All Blacks’ performance was pitiful from a team thought by many to be New Zealand’s best. If so, the future looks bleak.

But should it be after the high standard set in Super Rugby Aotearoa when forwards supplied fast ball and backs ran with flair and creativity to score tries?

However the rush defence wasn’t as powerful or effective as that of the Pumas.

As shown in last year’s World Cup semi-final loss against England, the forwards lack the physicality to dominate against the better teams.

Joe Moody is a good loosehead prop but promising Tyrel Lomax, playing at tighthead in place of the suspended Ofa Tu’ungafasi, is not yet a good enough scrummager.

Captain Sam Cane tried hard but failed to get the backing of his leadership team.
Second-five Jack Goodhue tackled manfully but lacks the kind of penetration Ma’a Nonu brought to the team for so long.

Coming off the reserves bench late, Rieko Ioane and Damian McKenzie added speed and some sparkle although Ioane blew a try when he dropped the ball with Caleb Clarke unmarked outside him.

Fellow reserve Hoskins Sotutu also looked sharp when given his chance.
With Dane Cole and Shannon Frizell guilty of indiscipline and giving away penalties, the inability of the forwards to gel was disappointing.

And it was a shame Akira Ioane was not named to face the Pumas after playing well and receiving so little time in his first test start against Australia.

Meanwhile, having lost two on the trot and with a 40 per cent win record having won two of five matches with one drawn, head coach Ian Foster is under fire from critics.

There have been some outstanding coaches in the not-so-distant past, Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith in particular.

It surprised many that the amiable Foster got the job ahead of Scott Robertson who has an invincible record with Canterbury and the Crusaders and who offered himself as Warren Gatland’s assistant for the Lions tour of South Africa.

Foster has another year left on his contract. But if Robertson isn’t offered a carrot by donkeys who have ignored his credentials, other nations are likely to make an offer he can’t refuse.

Ivan Agnew is an award-winning sports writer