The aspect of the All Blacks win that left Ian Foster 'delighted'
The All Blacks kept themselves at the summit of the Rugby Championship table by picking up a bonus-point win over the Argentines at Cbus Super Stadium in an impressive showing that drained their opponents throughout the course of the game.
The result didn’t come easily for the New Zealanders, who struggled to pierce Argentina’s staunch defensive line for much the first half.
With half-time approaching, it seemed Rieko Ioane would be the only try-scorer of the opening stanza after he latched onto a Beauden Barrett grubber kick inside Argentina’s in-goal area in the 10th minute.
Despite multiple waves of attack, the All Blacks failed to add to their lead until Barrett landed a penalty attempt six minutes from the break to give his side a 10-0 lead.
The floodgates opened after that, though, as both Sevu Reece and Dalton Paplii capitalised on the fatigued Los Pumas defence to cross the chalk in the dying stages of the half before Luke Jacobson grabbed a brace in the second half.
It was that patience and fortitude to stick to their game plan despite the initial resilience of the Argentine defence that was one of many things that impressed Foster when he assessed his team’s performance after the match.
“Pretty clinical and patient are the words I’d use. Not adjectives that normally describe an All Black win, I guess, but I’m actually delighted with it,” he told reporters post-match.
“If you look at their track record, they’re a hard team to score tries against. They know their defensive system pretty well and they’re willing to go to whatever lengths to try and stop you getting a flow on, and I like the fact that we stuck to what we were doing.
“We made them make a lot of tackles and ultimately got some really good reward on the scoreboard, so, overall, very happy with it.”
Foster partly attributed the New Zealand’s persistence with ball in hand to the leadership of stand-in captain Brodie Retallick, who was one of the standouts for the Kiwis in his first-ever test as All Blacks captain.
“If you do your research and look at how many tries they conceded in test matches, it’s not many,” Foster said.
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“Even in the series in South Africa, the South Africans found it hard to score against them and they built their scores in threes, so I liked our patience.
“Sometimes in the past, we can get a bit distracted when we get slowed down or things don’t work and we’re trying to build a bit of resilience in that space.
“Even things like the decision by Guz [Retallick] to take the points to go from seven to 10 was a really good decision too, and it just kept building a bit of scoreboard pressure and just enabled us to keep building some blocks after that.”
With 62 percent possession, 72 percent territory, 582 more running metres, 20 more defenders and 12 more clean breaks beaten than Los Pumas, the dominance of the All Blacks was reflected in their comprehensive scoreline.
However, while their attacking superiority was evident, Foster was more pleased with his team’s defensive solidity.
Despite making almost half the number of tackles that Argentina made, the All Blacks managed to keep Los Pumas scoreless for the second successive time, and Foster said that illustrated New Zealand’s mindset towards the defensive side of their game.
“I think our defence looked really strong. I thought at set piece time we gave them a lot of poor-quality ball and our defence was strong and aggressive at times,” he said.
“It wasn’t perfect, but I think we imposed ourselves and I did feel quite safe watching them have the ball and it felt we were pretty secure, so we’re making some good steps in that space.
“I think the key is we’re actually enjoying the defence side of it at the moment.”
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