Ian Foster was gracious in defeat, crediting Argentina for their discipline and mentality from the outset. On Kiwi TV John Kirwan could barely hide his anger that an all Blacks coach could acknowledge his side was beaten mentally.
The initial reaction then spilled over into leadership, tactics, and individual qualities. It’s going to be a noisy couple of weeks of reflection.
The poles of victory and defeat are going to be extreme in the aftermath to this result. For Argentina there will be celebrations of historic proportions to reflect the scale of their accomplishment. For New Zealand, suffering consecutive defeats for the first time since 2011 (and just a couple of matches after a home draw to the Wallabies too) there will be plenty of soul searching. This was a full strength starting XV. There was no experimentation like last week’s defeat in Brisbane. Ian Foster is not long in the job but he must already be feeling the heat.
“This is a big day for all the rugby in Argentina” says Pablo Matera, “nothing comes easy in Argentina.” The Argentinian captain then praises his side’s defence and discipline while behind him the entire Pumas camp celebrates in delirious fashion.
On the fringes of those celebrations stands Nicolas Sanchez with a look of disbelief on his face as if he can’t take in everything that has just occurred. That everything includes 20 points off his boot and five from an opportunistic first-half try.
“Full credit to Argentina” says a despondent Sam Cane, crediting Los Pumas for their intent, work at the breakdown, and physicality. There’s also frustration at his side’s lack of discipline and errors.
The inquest to this defeat will be searching in New Zealand.
This cannot be emphasised enough. This was not a freak outcome. Argentina were simply the better side.
402 days since Argentina last played a Test match. Four weeks in quarantine. Just two warm-up hitouts. And they have beaten the All Blacks for the first time in 30 encounters. Extraordinary.
New Zealand 15-25 Argentina
The greatest moment in Argentinian rugby history. 10-point victors over the mighty All Blacks, and they were worth it. Incredible in defence and efficient in attack, what a day to remember for Los Pumas.
TRY! New Zealand 15-25 Argentina (Clarke 80+2)
New Zealand keep coming – phase after phase and through sheer force of will Caleb Clarke muscles his way over in the left corner. Too little too late.
Mo’unga misses the kick, and the final whistle blows.
79 mins: The All Blacks are not giving up, but they have to find a miracle at this late stage. They earn a turnover in midfield shortly after the restart and that sets them going forward through phases, Clarke, then Savea, then Weber – who grasses it! The Argentina fans are making a racket in the stands.
Penalty! New Zealand 10-25 Argentina (Sanchez 78)
NICOLAS SANCHEZ! FROM THE HALFWAY LINE!
77 mins: The clearing kick sends Los Pumas to halfway and they secure the lineout without fuss. And as they land Gardner’s hand is outstretched indicating a penalty, which is awarded soon after. Sanchez will kick for goal from 50m, but even if he misses it will rob the clock of precious seconds.
75 mins: New Zealand come yet again through Sotutu and Ioane, pummelling the Pumas defensive line on the 22. But after some early gains everything becomes a little samey and stodgy and the penalty advantage is cashed in. The tap and go sets the All Blacks back in motion, but it’s more of the same, burrowing down the middle and Argentina have dealt with that all day, and they do so again, boy do they! Matera winning clean turnover ball! Oh my. That was huge!
73 mins: The scrum just to the right of the posts is textbook and the All Blacks have McKenzie in acres of space on the right wing and Sotutu tries the double cutout pass to find him – but it’s a fraction in front of the winger and the ball dribbles into touch. Such small margins, but they’ve gone against New Zealand all day.
72 mins: The lineout is secure and the All Blacks head from left to right, and this time there’s quick ball with regular small gain line incursions. From the right edge direction shifts left and McKenzie looks to have a gap to dash through, but it’s closed, and then there’s a penalty and play returns back for a scrum inside Argentina’s 22.
New Zealand have really turned up the heat in the past 10-15 minutes, but Argentina have stood up to it so far.
71 mins: New Zealand draw breath and launch again from deep, but once again they only reach halfway before the resolute Argentina line holds firm. This time there’s a rare penalty at the breakdown allowing the All Blacks to kick to 22 for the lineout.
70 mins: The All Blacks are now full of intent, running with purpose and hitting the gain line hard. Argentina’s defence continues to impress though, especially in close, where they refuse to take a backward step. They slow the phases down, preventing quick ball out wide and after 10 phases New Zealand are back where they behan, ploughing the Bankwest Stadium turf 30m out in centrefield. Eventually there’s an attempted kick down the right wing but it’s charged down, Argentina regather and clear their lines.
68 mins: Argentina are happy to execute a slow secure scrum and box kick to touch near halfway.
67 mins: The scrum is good for New Zealand and off the back they gain 20m from Sotutu. The clearout is quick and there’s space on the left if the All Blacks can get it through hands – and they almost do – but Ioane spends it before he claims it and there’s a cheap knock-on and all the oxygen escapes. Argentina are digging in for their lives but they are being aided by some sloppy ill disciplined rugby from the All Blacks.
65 mins: Ian Foster is emptying his bench in pursuit of fresh legs to find a late comeback. Meanwhile the clock continues to tick down as the scrum is set and reset with little hurry.
62 mins: Here comes the pressure from the All Blacks, kicking to the corner and throwing the lineout – but it’s stolen! Again! This is wild. Argentina boot clear and they continue to prosper from New Zealand errors.
But the All Blacks are at full speed now, hitting back as swiftly as possible, turning the game into a frantic contest in midfield with passes thrown from all angles and loose balls bobbling all over the place.
A breathless minute or so of footy ends with a New Zealand scrum in centre field around 30m from Argentina’s line.
60 mins: Both teams go to the boot, Argentina conservatively, the All Blacks with purpose, but Carreras does magnificently to claim Beauden Barrett’s bomb and turn defence into attack. Brilliant from the fullback. There’s no quick ball at the breakdown so Los Pumas kick for territory again but New Zealand keep the ball alive and opt to run for a series but that Argentinian defence is to the fore once again.
Out of options on the right flank Smith executes a perfect box kick that drops just outside the 22 and the chase is blistering, squeezing the penalty.
Penalty! New Zealand 10-22 Argentina (Sanchez 58)
Sanchez takes his haul to 22 and the gap to the All Blacks grows to 12 with just over 20 minutes to play.
57 mins: Los Pumas secure lineout ball on halfway and after a long pause Cubelli box kicks to Clarke inside the 22 but the young winger’s clearing kick is poor and Argentina are gifted an attacking set piece. They go very deep with the throw and gain some momentum with a couple of quick phases but then they lose possession in some frantic midfield scragging. But the referee’s arm points in their favour for a Mo’unga offside.
55 mins: The worry beforehand was that Argentina would run out of legs in the final quarter. They have a handy lead, but is it enough?
TRY! New Zealand 10-19 Argentina (Cane 54)
The lineout after the kick to the 22 is secured and the maul results in a penalty. The All Blacks kick to the corner, the lineout goes short, and there is an almighty shove from Cane and Savea that sets up a rumbling steamroller of a maul that ends with the ball in the skipper’s hands touching down.
Mo’unga nails a perfect touchline conversion.
52 mins: Argentina kick clear to play a territorial game and New Zealand run from deep, eventually inviting Clarke to accept contact, but the young winger is hit hard and thrown backwards. The All Blacks are desperate to keep the ball alive, but that desperation leads to an errant pass and a turnover. Los Pumas try to exploit the broken field but New Zealand scramble well in defence and Whitelock is patted on the back for forcing a turnover.
50 mins: An awkward kick from Mo’unga causes havoc in the Argentina defence but Carreras does well at ground level to rescue the situation and set up a platform for his side to clear. Los Pumas then win the lineout against the throw! What on earth is going on out there?
Penalty! New Zealand 3-19 Argentina (Sanchez 48)
From 40m out on a slight angle Sanchez extends Argentina’s advantage, and it does not flatter them! New Zealand have half an hour to rescue this.
47 mins: Argentina kick clear then nail the short lineout, gathering momentum with the rolling maul until they earn the advantage, allowing them to head back infield through hands. They creep from halfway to the 22 through repeat phases of short offloads and strong runners hitting the edge of tacklers and rolling to earn marginal gains. After an age the whistle blows for the earlier infringement and Sanchez has a chance to extend the lead.
45 mins: To add insult to injury Argentina then win a scrum penalty against Joe Moody. New Zealand are being systematically defused.
44 mins: Can this be the launchpad for the comeback? No! Goodness me. A straightforward set-play off the lineout is not timed accurately and Jordie Barrett fumbles the inside ball. so uncharacteristic from New Zealand today.
42 mins: Argentina accept the kick-off and are happy to grind their way for a couple of slow phases in their own 22 before a huge box kick from Cubelli sends them to halfway. The All Blacks attack with purpose from the lineout but after an early punch over the gain line Argentina send them sideways and by the time it recahes the left wing there’s a turnover against Tuipulotu. Los Pumas try to run in broken field but New Zealand regroup and soon earn a penalty of their own that they boot to Argentina’s 22.
Teams are out for the second half. Can the All Blacks up their game?
What a half indeed. Practically flawless in defence and enterprising in attack they’ve matched the All Blacks for intensity and industry and beaten them for discipline. You’d never guess they hadn’t played together for over a year!
Now, do they have the stamina to run out the full 80 minutes?
Half-time: New Zealand 3-16 Argentina
What a superb half of rugby for Argentina. They take their biggest half-time lead ever against the All Blacks, and they deserve it. Some serious questions for New Zealand to answer in the next 40 minutes to avoid a major embarrassment.
40 mins: Oh my. A simple kick to the corner to set up an attacking lineout misses its mark! That is a shocking error from Mo’unga, kicking dead in goal instead of across the sideline. Wow. This has been a half to forget for Ian Foster.
39 mins: It’s a messy scrum for the All Blacks with Argentina shoving powerfully after contact, but there’s a penalty against Kremer and another break in play.
38 mins: Eventually the scrum feed takes place, kicks are exchanged and the clock is back to ticking impatiently ahead of an Argentina lineout 10m inside their own half. But it’s scruffy, a rare error from Los Pumas, and the All Blacks have a scrum that they must take advantage of.