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.
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.
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.
Nicolas Sanchez is still world class ?
— Charles Patoshik (@SixtaLumko) November 14, 2020
Incredible game and what a result! Huge team effort and a kicking masterclass from Nicolas Sanchez. Well done Argentina!!ADVERTISEMENT
— Gau Appanna (@GauAppanna) November 14, 2020
— Declan Keyes-Bevan (@deckeyesbevan) November 14, 2020
— Eamon Walsh (@eamonsticks) November 14, 2020
— byron (@Bmacn88) November 14, 2020
Nicolás Sánchez has been nothing short of phenomenal! #NZLvARG
— Ryan Siverson (@rysiphoto) November 14, 2020
@unionargentina have been outstanding!
Matera and Kremer’s defence has been absolutely world class.
Nicolás Sánchez is a national treasure. #NZLvsARG
— Andrew Reynolds (@Andy_RennRugby) November 14, 2020
Sanchez played an absolute dream performance. ?
— Mr Whitefolks (@screamingsutch) November 14, 2020
What a performance from Argentina! Absolute masterclass from the 10 Sanchez, that last kick to put it out of sight ? Great to see fans back in the stadium to witness history ?#NZLvARG #AllBlacks #RugbyChampionship
— Daniel McMahon (@DanielMc1991) November 14, 2020
Sanchez proving he’s one of the best 10s in the world. Enjoying this test.
— Observer (@rugby_whisperer) November 14, 2020
Sanchez?? unbelievable #NZLvARG
— Tom Derrick (@tom_derrick1) November 14, 2020
— #KingShakaZulu’s Daughter??? (@Thembileeh) November 14, 2020
Absolutely inspiring and spirited performance from @lospumas. Their play made me miss rugby even more.
Nico Sánchez is an animal with a boot to boast about. History. Goodness. #NZLvARG
— Carly MacKinnon (@MacKinnonCarly) November 14, 2020
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.
Up by 12, Sanchez perfectly struck a kick from 55 metres out, which all but ended any chance of an All Blacks comeback.
— Gareth Jenkinson (@gazza_jenks) November 14, 2020
That is some ping by Sanchez ?? #NZLvARG
— Andrew Shore (@andrewshore90) November 14, 2020
That was an epic penalty from Sanchez! #NZLvARG
— Attila (@AttilaBalassa) November 14, 2020
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.
That being said, Nicolas Sanchez perhaps selected on reputation rather than form for Los Pumas? Hasn’t been at his best for a while now- did Ledesma err by not taking Diaz Bonilla and/or Miotti?
— SH Rugby (@shrugbyblog) September 21, 2019
Hearing loud and clear that Nicolás Sánchez will not play for Argentina ??vs??????? England.
Not at 10 and not on the bench.
Dropped by Ledesma altogether for not performing against ??France or ??Tonga in addition to Rugby Championship form.
— Paul Tait (@AmericasOval) October 3, 2019
It’s important to remember that this was a very poor Argentina side though.
Stade Francais are still looking for that Nicolas Sanchez receipt. pic.twitter.com/70oRVifmvH
— Cardiff Rugby Life (@CardiffRugbyWeb) June 18, 2018
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.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now