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All Blacks subdue spirited Pumas in Nelson

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Lynn McConnell     08 Sep 2018     Getty Images

The game with the selection changes the All Blacks made was always going to be a test of depth and there would be general satisfaction with the way a less experienced side handled everything that Argentina threw at them – and it was plenty.

New first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga picked up 16 points while blindside flanker Shannon Frizell had an explosive game in the loose where fellow flanker Ardie Savea was also outstanding.

But the entire All Blacks pack threw themselves into the contest, out-doing Argentina in the scrums and competing in the defensive contest with consistent accuracy.

It was a big night for Argentina's first five-eighths Nicolas Sanchez in organising a competitive assault by his side, scoring a try, and passing Felipe Contepomi's 651 points for Argentina in Test matches.

Making a frenetic start to the game both sides moved the ball, although the power of the All Blacks' scrum proved unsettling for the visitors who were also guilty of infringements at the breakdown which denied them more time in All Blacks territory.

It was more of a test of All Blacks depth than anticipated with the loss of lock Brodie Retallick and second five-eighths Ngani Laumape around the same time, 10 minutes into the game.

Argentina were keen to use the ball as often as the All Blacks. Left wing Ramiro Moyano demonstrated his attacking class when making use of ground on the flank left vacant when wing Nehe Milner-Skudder rushed infield. He moved in then out and opened up more space on the left to run in a superb try in the 14th minute.

But the All Blacks' response came immediately on the back of good work by the forward pack with Frizell breaking the line nearly every time he got the ball. Lock Scott Barrett was also effective in taking ball forward and also distributing with effect.

That brought its reward when centre Jack Goodhue made a strong burst at the line before the ball was back out to the right where hooker Codie Taylor threw a long ball for Milner-Skudder ran in the try.

Goodhue, Frizell and Barrett all featured again as the All Blacks surged back into the Argentina 22m area while prop Owen Franks and replacement lock Sam Whitelock also featured before halfback TJ Perenara ducked around the ruck to score the second.

Argentina went with a hairs-breadth of scoring another try just before halftime when Sanchez ran a downfield kick back to give centre Matias Moroni a run into the corner. But Perenara's determination to chase all the way produced its reward when his tackle induced Moroni to flick his boot against the touchline to see the try ruled out.

While Mo'unga landed a penalty goal to take New Zealand to the break at 18-7, Argentina made the first impact of the second half when turning the ball over from the restart and going hard at the line and after powerful pick-and-goes from the big men, it was Sanchez who slid through to score.

But in the 48th minute fullback Ben Smith capitalised on a powerful play by Savea to split the defence and then keep on powering ahead when staying on his feet. Mo'unga found Goodhue who drew the defence to create an opening for Read to score.

Sanchez landed a penalty goal to become the highest points scorer in Tests but followed that with an errant downfield kick which was run back by the All Blacks and from a ruck Lienert-Brown cracked the defence and ran into space to find Perenara running inside him to take the pass and score a 57th minute try.

Argentina refused to bow and marshalling their resources they pinned the All Blacks in their 22m area with lineout skills creating chances while from a 69th minute scrum produced a chance for Sanchez to pop a pass to fullback Emiliano Boffelli who ran in for a try.

But the response from the home side was immediate as they launched a 16-phase assault which resulted in Frizell crossing for a fine try.

Then to give the win a bonus, literally, when Damian McKenzie was twice in a move, firstly taking the ball deep into the Argentine 22m area in league with Mo'unga before coming in as standoff to take a pop pass from replacement halfback Te Toiroa Turiorangi at speed to create a chance which Goodhue finished with the bonus point try.

Scorers: New Zealand 46 (Nehe Milner-Skudder, TJ Perenara 2, Kieran Read, Shannon Frizell, Jack Goodhue tries; Richie Mo'unga 5 con, 2 pen) Argentina 24 (Ramiro Moyano, Nicolas Sanchez, Emiliano Boffelli tries; Nicolas Sanchez 3 con, pen). HT: 18-7