New Zealand warmed up for their 100th Test against South Africa by overtaking them at the top of the world rankings after a 36-13 win over Argentina.
The All Blacks needed to beat the Pumas by 15 points on Saturday to regain the top ranking after Australia completed back-to-back wins over the Springboks with a 30-17 victory in the first match of a double-header at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
A New Zealand line-up, containing 11 changes to the starting XV from last week’s 39-0 win over the Pumas, dominated early but had to wrestle hard in the second half to improve to 4-0 in the Rugby Championship and extend their winning streak to nine Tests.
Second-rower Patrick Tuipulotu, halfback TJ Perenara and Tupou Vaa’i – long after the half-time siren – scored tries to put the New Zealanders up 24-3 at the break, despite having three tries disallowed.
It was 29-6 when hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho touched down in the right corner five minutes after the break, but then Argentina rallied.
After the big loss on the Gold Coast last start, the Pumas played with more discipline and worked their way back to 29-13 in the 51st minute.
Winger Emiliano Boffelli caught a perfectly placed cross-field kick and dived into the left corner for Argentina’s first try in two matches, then converted from the sideline.
The New Zealanders missed another scoring opportunity when replacement halfback Finlay Christie charged down Santiago Carreras’ attempted clearance but fumbled the loose ball at close range.