9 Oct 2011

All Blacks labour to put Argentina away

11:57 pm on 9 October 2011

The All Blacks won their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Argentina as expected on Sunday night, but looked none too convincing in doing it. Piri Weepu's boot saw them through to a flattering 33-10 win.

Australia beat South Africa 11-9 in Sunday's other quarter-final, so next weekend the All Blacks meet Australia in one semi-final and France will play Wales in the other. Both matches will be played in Auckland.

Argentina battled hard at the breakdown to slow New Zealand ball and even took the lead at one stage after a try from Julio Farias Cabello. It was only in the last 15 minutes that the All Blacks got over the Pumas' tryline, with maiden Cup tries by Kieran Read and Brad Thorn.

There were flashes of brilliance from wingers Cory Jane and Sonny Bill Williams as well as a typically wholehearted effort from centre Ma'a Nonu but in the end it was the pack that secured the victory.

"That's what we expected," says skipper Richie McCaw. "We realised that come finals time it may take 80 minutes and I thought we played some good rugby.

"We started to get some reward with three points and we realised that if just kept chipping away we would get the chances."

First try stuns Eden Park

Weepu assumed place-kicking duty from the start and converted penalties in the 13th and 26th minutes to put the All Blacks ahead 6-0.

Read thought he had scored the first try of the match in the 18th minute but his toe grazed the touchline before he ploughed over in the corner.

In the event it was the Pumas who stunned a packed Eden Park when Cabello breached the New Zealand line in the 31st minute after a thundering run from No 8 Leonardo Senatore. Felipe Contepomi kicked a superb conversion from the sideline.

The Pumas' 7-6 lead last just five minutes, however, before Weepu slotted another penalty to edge the home side ahead and another three points from the halfback on the stroke of halftime sent the All Blacks into the break 12-7 up.

Breakthrough while halfback sin-binned

Argentina were not done yet, though, and centre Marcelo Bosch landed a huge penalty from the halfway line six minutes after the break - only for Weepu to hit back with one of his own after 50 minutes.

McCaw was denied a try by the television match official in the 58th minute but Weepu added his sixth penalty from in front of the posts.

The infringement also cost Pumas halfback Nicolas Vergallo 10 minutes in the sin-bin and while he was off the All Blacks finally found a way through the blue-and-white defensive line.

Weepu failed to convert Read's try - his first missed kick of the tournament - but he added his seventh penalty to extend New Zealand's cushion to 26-10 before making way for Jimmy Cowan.

Thorn put a gloss on the result three minutes from time with a second try for the All Blacks after a neat offload from Aaron Cruden, who added the conversion to seal a fine performance as first-half replacement for the injured Colin Slade.

Fullback Mils Muliaina, playing his 100th test, was also replaced at halftime because of injury.

Pumas captain Contepomi said after the match: "I think it was competitive for 60 minutes, then the All Blacks showed their magic and won well. But that's rugby, you know."


New Zealand Tries: Kieran Read, Brad Thorn. Conversion: Aaron Cruden. Penalties: Piri Weepu (7).

Argentina Try: Julio Farias Cabello. Conversion: Felipe Contepomi. Penalty: Marcelo Bosch.

Referee Nigel Owens (Wales)