A brief spurt before half-time and again in the closing minutes made the difference for Steve Hansen’s men against an unpredictable Pumas attack
The win means the All Blacks remain unbeaten after the third round of the Championship.
A brief spurt before half-time and again in the closing minutes made the difference for Steve Hansen’s men against an unpredictable Pumas attack.
It marked the first time the All had played a Test in Nelson, nearly 150 years after the city hosted the historic first game of rugby in New Zealand, and they did that by outscoring the Pumas six tries to three to claim the bonus point.
But it did not come easy against an Argentina side boosted by a convincing win over South Africa and who were ahead 7-3 after 15 minutes in their search for a first ever win over New Zealand.
But, before a capacity crowd of 21,400, they could not handle the All Blacks trade mark closing burst which produced two late converted tries.
It meant Argentina’s dismal record against the All Blacks slumped to one draw and 26 losses from 27 Tests and they are closing in on the unwanted record of the team to play the most matches against New Zealand without a win – currently held by Scotland on 31.
Richie Mo’unga put the All Blacks on the board in the second minute via a penalty.
Much had been made of Mo’unga getting a start at fly-half in only his second Test but it was flanker Shannon Frizell, on his first start, who made the biggest impact with his powerful running around the ruck.
A triple injury blow in the ninth minute for the All Blacks saw Ben Smith, Ngani Laumape (knee) and Brodie Retallick (shoulder) leave the field to be replaced by Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sam Whitelock.
In the 10 minutes it took Smith to return from his head injury assessment both sides had scored tries and the All Blacks were back in front 10-7.
Ramiro Moyano put Argentina briefly in front when he stepped around Mo’unga, TJ Perenara and Codie Taylor to score, while a Frizell rampage paved the way for Nehe Milner-Skudder to reply for the All Blacks.
Perenara extended the lead to 15-7 with a try diving around the side of a ruck, and when Matias Moroni was denied a try for Argentina when his foot brushed the touchline amid a superb Perenara tackle, Mo’unga ended the half with a second penalty for the All Blacks.
Nicolas Sanchez scored and converted to get Argentina within four points before Smith opened the lead with a try.
A penalty given away by Sanchez brought Perenara’s second try and when Sanchez put Emiliano Boffelli in to score in reply, the All Blacks came back with one through Frizell.
With time up, Jack Goodhue crashed over for the All Blacks’ sixth and bonus point try.