Argentina have come within four points of securing a famous maiden win over New Zealand in their opening Rugby Championship clash of the year in Buenos Aires.
It was the first match of the year for both sides as their World Cup preparations kick into gear, so we see how each player faired in this tightly-contested affair.
1. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro – 5
Got slightly more involved in the second stanza after a quiet first half, but a handling error inside the 55th minute cost the Pumas a good try-scoring chance. Missed the most tackles of any player in the match.
2. Augustin Creevy – 7
Veteran showed plenty of passion, intent and leadership, as we’ve come to expect from him in recent years. Accurate at the lineout more often than not.
3. Juan Figallo – 6.5
Powerful scrummaging had Tu’ungafasi back-peddling at scrum time. Wasn’t as effective in most other facets of the game.
4. Guido Petti – 8.5
Always a safe option at the lineout, looked to make a menace of himself in the tight stuff. Didn’t miss a tackle, claimed two turnovers, won eight lineouts, and stole another two. One of the key cogs that often goes unheralded for both the Jaguares and Pumas.
5. Tomas Lavanini – 6
Not as effective as his locking partner, but continually shifted his big frame around the park with the sort of aggression we’ve become accustomed to from him nonetheless. Perhaps a bit too one-dimensional on attack.
6. Pablo Matera – 7
Ran hard and tackled solidly. Big work rate, and was one of the brightest sparks in a tough Pumas forward pack. Lucky to escape a yellow card for a deliberate knock down late in the piece.
7. Marcos Kremer – 5
Missed a great chance to open the try-scoring from close range, and next notable actions were to concede two penalties inside his own half, both of which were punished by Beauden Barrett’s boot.
8. Javier Ortega Desio – 6
Was severely outplayed by his opposite Savea, although three turnovers won is a good return in a quiet display from the No 8.
9. Tomas Cubelli – 8
Didn’t get the sort of service he would have liked from his forward pack in the first quarter of the match, but that and his box kicking improved as the game grew older. Good, flat passing put teammates through some defensive holes on occasion. Great intensity throughout the contest, and finished the match as one of Argentina’s best.
10. Nicolas Sanchez – 7
Accurate boot from the kicking tee. Kicking game was just as lethal in-game, forcing the likes of Ben Smith to produce uncharacteristic errors under the high ball. Assisted Brodie Retallick’s try by throwing the intercept, but rebounded strongly with some quick thinking to assist Boffelli’s try.
11. Ramiro Moyano – 6
Was relatively quiet until he was forced to make an unlikely try-saving on Ben Smith after being beaten by the pass of Beauden Barrett. Clinical on defence.
12. Jeronimo de la Fuente – 7.5
Super dependable on defence. Finished second in the tackle count after registering 16 tackles, which is a truckload of work for a back. Was unlucky not to have scored in the 68th minute after doing plenty of hard work to set Moyano away for a disallowed try.
13. Matias Orlando – 7
Not quite as good as de la Fuente, but still did his best to keep the All Blacks at bay. Completed all of his tackles, but a couple of handling errors at key times cost his team.
14. Matias Moroni – 6.5
Was regularly put under pressure by the All Blacks’ kicking game and dealt with the threat well. Would have liked to get his hands on the ball more in better attacking positions.
15. Emiliano Boffelli – 7
Thunderous boot from the tee helped Argentina’s cause early on. Continued to hack away at the All Blacks’ defence when given the chance, and used his height and aerial ability to full advantage to score Argentina’ only try.
16. Julian Montoya – 6.5
Had big boots to fill after coming on in place of Creevy, but did so adequately enough without causing too much of a threat to the All Blacks.
17. Mayco Vivas – 6
Was in the thick of the action on attack after being thrusted into the contest with nine minutes remaining.
18. Santiago Medrano – 5
Lost the ball in contact with first touch. Was barely seen beyond that point.
19. Matias Alemanno – 6.5
Saved a potential try with a clutch tackle on Ennor in the closing stages of the contest to keep his side in with a shout.
20. Tomas Lezana – 6
Nothing to rave about after coming on in place of Kremer, although he caused a stir on the All Blacks bench when he was Argentina’s 16th man on the field while Lavanini was having an injury niggle taken care of.
21. Felipe Ezcurra – N/A
Had a big task on his hands to emulate the performance of Cubelli from the bench, but didn’t have enough time to do so.
22. Joaquin Diaz Bonilla – N/A
Didn’t get much of an opportunity to make much of a difference after subbing in late in the clash.
23. Joaquin Tuculet – 6
Had limited chances to try and spark something on attack in the dying stages, and tried his best to do exactly that, but he just couldn’t get things going.
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1. Ofa Tu’ungafasi – 5
Struggled to deal with the experience of Figallo at the scrum. Not overly effective with ball in hand and penalised for collapsing a scrum midway through the first half. Signs of frustration began to show shortly before being taken off.
2. Dane Coles – 6.5
Plenty of grit as he tried to make a claim to retain the No 2 jersey over Codie Taylor. Gave away a silly penalty for a shoulder charge which handed Argentina good field position, but showed a ton of energy before being subbed.
3. Angus Ta’avao – 6
Got into his work and blended into the match without making much of a statement before being replaced by Laulala.
4. Brodie Retallick – 7
Industrious as ever. Difficult to pick out any faults in his game, and his 50 metre intercept try was a joy to watch. Still the world’s best lock, even if he was outshone in this match by Petti.
5. Patrick Tuipulotu – 6
Like Ta’avao, Tuipulotu toiled away all game but didn’t bring an awful lot to the table. Might be a missed opportunity to impress as World Cup spots look tight in the locking department.
6. Vaea Fifita – 5
Breakdown penalty inside the first 10 minutes allowed Boffelli to unleash his booming boot from the tee. A high tackle on Cubelli shortly afterwards showed a lack of discipline. Was handy at the lineout.
7. Sam Cane – 6
An error-laden outing on both sides of the ball in just his second-ever test as All Blacks captain. Far too many spillages for his liking. However, 17 tackles was a match-high and integral to his side’s victory.
8. Ardie Savea – 7.5
A typically energetic and robust performance. Bounced out of tackles at will and caused plenty a headache for the opposition defence.
9. Aaron Smith – 7
Nippy as always. Decision to tap and go in the 18th minute from 5 metres out paid dividends as Laumape crashed over for a try.
10. Beauden Barrett – 8
Mixed things up as the game wore on. Started the contest with a number of attacking kicks in behind the Argentines, but began to open things up with his strong running game, which splintered the opposition defence. Trustworthy from the tee.
11. Jordie Barrett – 5.5
Unspectacular. Way too many errors and not enough of a spark on attack to accompany his defence and massive punt, which could be a valuable asset later this year.
12. Ngani Laumape – 7.5
Sloppy hands early on. Redeemed himself with a line break and some good kick chase game, and was rewarded with a try through his strong running. Remained a constant threat with ball in hand, and staked a big claim in the midfield battle for World Cup spots.
13. Anton Lienert-Brown – 6.5
Fantastic defensive work. Worked well in tandem with Laumape, both making 13 tackles. Showed glimpses of some neat footwork.
14. Sevu Reece – 7
Lively and looked to get involved from the get-go, but faded in the second half. Saved a try on his own tryline in the first quarter of an hour with a vital tackle on Kremer. Great line break in the 29th minute to split the Argentine defence. Very solid test debut.
15. Ben Smith – 6.5
Got more involved as the game wore on. Was evasive with ball in hand, despite not causing a huge amount of problems defensively for the Pumas. Always committed to the cause.
16. Liam Coltman – 6
A misthrow at the lineout late in the game had the potential to be costly for the All Blacks as they defended deep inside their own 22, but they emerged unscathed after he won the ball back at the breakdown. Needs to show more in next match to solidify his spot in Japan.
17. Atu Moli – 6
Anchored the scrum well on test debut, but didn’t see much action elsewhere despite being on the park for about a quarter of the match.
18. Nepo Laulala – 6
Made all six of his tackles and helped Moli out at scrum time, but not much else to add to that.
19. Jackson Hemopo – 6.5
Was impactful after coming on for Tuipulotu, which should propel him up the national pecking order. Efficient on defence.
20. Luke Jacobson – 6.5
Did what he does best for the Chiefs in Super Rugby, and that was smashing opponents with some thumping tackles. Coped well on test debut.
21. Brad Weber – N/A
First match for the All Blacks in four years, but wasn’t given much of a chance to stand out with less than 10 minutes to play. Did well given the circumstances.
22. Josh Ioane – N/A
Didn’t make it onto the park, which is disappointing for the uncapped 23-year-old, but understandable given the tightness of this clash.
23. Braydon Ennor – 6.5
Proved to be threatening in his first touch of the ball in test rugby as he swung out and took advantage of a defensive mismatch on the left-hand edge. A sign of things to come.
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