Los Pumas made history on Saturday, defeating the All Blacks for the first time ever with a convincing display at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.
While it was definitely a team effort which spurred the underdogs to victory, two players stood out above the rest.
With four-time Super Rugby winner Bryn Hall away this week, Sky Sports commentator Jeff McTanish sat in for him. For McTanish, there was a clear choice with who the Healthspan Elite Performer of the Week is, with flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez having scored all of Argentina’s 25-points.
Sanchez was compared to Pumas legend Hugo Porter after the match, a player who scored all of Argentina’s 21-points in the 1985 draw with the All Blacks in Buenos Aires.
But the 32-olds performance on Saturday etched his name into the history books, with his one try, one conversion, and six penalties seeing him score the third-most points of any individual in one match against the All Blacks.
“Like Mario Ledesma the coach, he’s been trying for such a long time,” McTanish said on the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “He’s been part of teams that have given the All Blacks a run for 50, 60, 70 minutes at times, but finally to see a guy like that and come through, and steer his team around the park.
Following his comments on The Breakdown last week where he said that the Pumas wouldn’t challenge the All Blacks, Sir John Kirwan has been made to eat some “humble pie” after the upset. https://t.co/y2yB9WpVeG
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 15, 2020
“I think what we’ve seen potentially with this All Blacks team is that they’ve lacked a bit of experience at times in those positions and Nicolas Sanchez, what is he 33 or 34 years old (32), he’s been around a long time so he knew that that was their opportunity.
“For him to score all of their points, for me that was the standout effort of the weekend for sure.”
Challenging McTanish’s comments, former All Black James Parsons sung the praises of Openside Flanker Marco Kremer, after he put up incredible numbers.
“23 years old, it was his 29th test, some of these stats are mind-blowing.
“14 carries, one defender beaten, 28 tackles, three missed so he’s tackling at 90%. Out of those 28, 14% of them were dominant.
“That’s 28 tackles and that’s an 80-minute effort. Let’s not forget, 14% is a really high dominant tackle number so he’s doing the business, he’s a big body.
Fans on Twitter have been quick to turn on the world champion Springboks after the Pumas historic win over the All Blacks last weekend.https://t.co/qFXVbPvhcj
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 16, 2020
“The balance of possession is another thing, it was pretty much 50-50, both sides go the opportunity to make a similar amount of tackles. Obviously if it’s like 70-30 then 28 [tackles] is not as impressive but at 50-50, it’s really impressive.
“On the night, I said after the call that he was my player of the day before I even read the stats because I felt like that Argentinian seven jersey was just everywhere.”
The panel soon shifted their focus to the All Blacks backrow, and what was missing against the Pumas.
“There’s been a lot talked about the All Blacks loose forward trio and whether we’re missing a big body and I just feel like whether he does come back into the mix or not, we do need a big weapon like Liam Squire,” McTanish suggested.
In response, Parsons brought up the success of Shannon Frizell in the Bledisloe Cup matches in particular, but also the work of Akira Ioane with his limited minutes in Bledisloe IV.
“Akira Ioane was very effective in his 28 minutes so we could see potentially him getting another opportunity to be that, because he’s an explosive customer.
“He’s got the genetic to be as explosive as a Liam Squire, and he just needs to be given a go.”
The All Blacks have a bye this week in the Tri Nations, but will have the chance to seek revenge against the Pumas when they face again on Saturday week in Newcastle.
Argentina on the other hand are set for what is now a highly anticipated fixture, with the win for either side set to go along way to cementing their title aspirations. Parsons admitted that there will be more interest in the match this weekend after the upset win last weekend, and that this was crucial for the competition.
“It’s important to players as well, having a genuine idea and belief that you’re coming into the weekend and you’ve got a genuine opportunity to take it.
Now, that Argies side, they’ll be frothing at the moth but making sure that they’re as disciplined in their game plan and what they executed against the All Blacks. I’d say it’s even more important because the Wallabies won’t be surprised, they know what’s coming.”
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