21 Sep 2015

All Blacks survive first World Cup encounter

5:43 pm on 21 September 2015

The All Blacks have survived their first match of the Rugby World Cup, beating Argentina 26-16 at Wembley Stadium in London.

Richie McCaw heads to the sin bin during the Rugby World Cup match between New Zealand and Argentina.

Richie McCaw heads to the sin bin during the Rugby World Cup match between New Zealand and Argentina. Photo: PhotoSport

It wasn't all smooth sailing, New Zealand trailed Argentina 13-12 at half time, before they scored two tries in the second half to put the game beyond doubt.

When the final whistle blew at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday morning, the relief was obvious on the faces of the All Blacks.

Richie McCaw's side had been pushed to one of their toughest opening matches in World Cup history.

The game didn't get off to the best of starts for the All Blacks, two of their most experienced players were sent to the sin bin towards the end of the first half.

First it was Richie McCaw for tripping an Argentinian player while the Pumas were hot on attack, then Conrad Smith had to serve 10 minutes on the sidelines for infringing at the breakdown.

McCaw was booed off the field by the 89 thousand strong crowd, but the All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says thats to be expected when he plays in England.

"Oh that's normal over here, it's been happening for years.

"We just take it with a grain of salt and we take it for what it is, a mark of respect against a great player, you don't get booed unless you're any good, if you're no good no one cares," Hansen said.

The All Blacks coach reiterated he isn't hitting the panic button just yet because every opening game at a World Cup has its challenges.

"Now it's out of the way I think all the teams will settle down and I think you'll see a big improvement right across the board in all the games but we definitely know we didn't execute as well as we could have and it gives us something to work on."

One particular area of success the All Blacks had over Argentina was their depth off the bench, which got put to work early in the second half.

Assistant coach Ian Foster said Sonny Bill Williams made a significant impact in the back line when he came on.

"Probably had his first decent kick for the All Blacks which he's very proud about and the key's are our bench, we need to learn what they need to do while watching and Sonny was able to do that."

Former All Black captain and two-time World Cup representative Anton Oliver agreed with Foster's sentiments.

And he's very impressed with the impact prop Wyatt Crockett had during scrum time when he replaced Tony Woodcock.

"The Argentines have got an amazing scrum, they shunted us all around the park in the first half and I think it's unfair for people to be critical of that because they're going to do that to everyone but Crockett came on and our scrum actually went a lot better in the second half."

"When all the other reserves came on they all added something and that's a real positive."

Anton Oliver said many of the All Blacks bench players are more than capable of turning a game and this must be creating some headaches for the coaches and anxiety for the starting 15.

The All Blacks next match is against Namibia on Friday morning.

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