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'Nicolas Sanchez is still world class' - Pumas hero silences critics with 'phenomenal' performance against All Blacks

By Online Editors
Nicolas Sanchez of the Pumas passes the ball during the 2020 Tri-Nations rugby match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Argentina Los Pumas at Bankwest Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

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Argentina have stunned rugby fans around the world by defeating the All Blacks 25-15 in Sydney on Saturday, 402 days after their last test match.

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Los Pumas were ranked outsiders heading into the Tri Nations clash, with All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan especially adamant that the Pumas wouldn’t challenge due to a lack of game time and issues with COVID-19.

But after trading penalty kicks, it was the Pumas who made the most of a strong start, with Nicolas Sanchez crossing 19 minutes in. The flyhalf regathered his own chip kick in-behind the All Blacks defensive line, to score under the posts.

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Pablo Matera and Mario Ledesma reflect on the 25-15 win over the All Blacks.
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Pablo Matera and Mario Ledesma reflect on the 25-15 win over the All Blacks.

Sanchez continued to add to his tally as the match went on, finishing the night with six penalty kicks and a 25-point haul. It was the third-most points scored by an individual in a test against the All Blacks.

While the brick wall that was the Argentinian defence kept the All Blacks try-less throughout the first half, and contained them when it counted after the break, Sanchez was ultimately the difference at Bankwest Stadium.

Fans on Twitter have been full of praise for the Stade Francais pivot, with one describing his performance as a ‘masterclass’ after he outscored the All Blacks by 10-points on his own.

While his try mid-way through the first-half certainly set the game alight, it was his kick with four minutes to play which sent fans into a frenzy.

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Up by 12, Sanchez perfectly struck a kick from 55 metres out, which all but ended any chance of an All Blacks comeback.

The player of the match performance was reminiscent of his form in 2015, where he guided Argentina to the semi-finals at the Rugby World Cup in England. For some, his form deserved a nomination for World men’s player of the year.

But over the past couple of years, Sanchez’s form has come under scrutiny. Just last year, he had a disappointing Rugby Championship campaign and also failed to fire at the World Cup in Japan, eventually being dropped for the pool clash against England.

It would seem that Sanchez has well and truly silenced his critics with his performance in Western Sydney.

Argentina have now put themselves in a good position to contest for the Tri Nations title, but they still have three big games to play starting with the Wallabies in Newcastle.

But the Pumas will be full of confidence ahead of the clash, after beating a Rugby Australia XV twice on consecutive weekends. The XV was made up of players not included in the matchday Wallabies squad, with the most recent match including Fraser McReight and Isi Naisarani.

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'Nicolas Sanchez is still world class' - Pumas hero silences critics with 'phenomenal' performance against All Blacks

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