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New Zealand win at the death and South Africa repel Argentina in Rugby Championship

New Zealand win at the death and South Africa repel Argentina in Rugby Championship

New Zealand win at the death and South Africa repel Argentina in Rugby Championship

Jordie Barrett’s last-gasp try saw New Zealand to a thrilling 39-37 victory over Australia and South Africa defeated Argentina 36-20 in round five of the Rugby Championship.

A nine-try thriller in Melbourne came to a dramatic and controversial conclusion as Australian fly-half Bernard Foley was penalised for time-wasting at the death, allowing Barrett to score from the resulting scrum with the clock in the red.

Hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho’s double had put New Zealand 31-13 ahead but an incredible fight back from Australia saw them score three tries in 12 minutes, including two for Andrew Kellaway, before Pete Samu levelled the scores with eight minutes to go.

Nic White’s penalty put Australia on the verge of a famous victory but referee Mathieu Raynal’s decision to award a scrum as Foley waited before kicking a penalty to touch allowed New Zealand to retain the Bledisloe Cup.

On Saturday, the Estadio Libertadores de América hosted its first ever rugby match and Agustin Creevy became the most capped Argentine of all time after making his 95th appearance.

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However, world champions South Africa put in a professional performance in front of a 34,000 strong Pumas crowd.

The Springboks led 22-6 at the break as a mixture of physical dominance and Argentina’s ill-discipline enable them to score three tries in the first 40 minutes.

But in the second half it was the Springboks who were reduced to 14 and then briefly 13 men when Willie Le Roux and Kwagga Smith were sin-binned, with the Pumas scoring two tries in three minutes to reduce the deficit to just two points.

Damian De Allende and Malcom Marx’s late scores settled things for the Springboks, meaning it is all to play for with New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia all able to claim the title in Saturday’s final round.

So what were the main takeaways from this round?

ALL BLACKS GO BACK TO BASICS

Ian Foster with the media ahead of the game

Ian Foster and New Zealand have endured a difficult 12 months with pressure mounting on the All Blacks coach ahead of the Autumn Nations Series with the 2023 Rugby World Cup also fast approaching.

Successive defeats to Ireland and France in the 2021 Autumn Nations Series preceded a first-ever series defeat against the Men in Green in July which was followed by Argentina’s maiden win in New Zealand in the Rugby Championship to only increase the scrutiny.

But Foster and his side went back to basics to get the win over Australia, ensuring they were physical up front and potent at the maul as shown by Taukei’aho’s two tries.

There is still plenty to work on, the All Blacks won just two of their five scrums, conceded 13 penalties and almost blew a 19-point lead.

Foster now has a real chance to silence his critics by defeating the Wallabies again and winning the Rugby Championship ahead of a tricky Autumn Nations Series against Wales, Scotland and England.

WALLABIES SHOW FLAIR

Andrew Kellaway runs in a try

The nature of all four of the tries scored by the Wallabies will have pleased Dave Rennie immensely despite the agonising result.

It has been seven years since Australia were World Cup finalists and almost as long since they have looked this threatening.

A first win over England since the group stage of the 2015 World Cup and a victory over the world champions South Africa is a clear sign of their progress under Rennie.

For the Wallabies to earn those victories by playing genuinely exciting rugby is something that will please their coach even more.

There is a long way to go, with Australia losing the series against England and suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Argentina, but there is still plenty to be excited about even if they only retain slim hopes of claiming the Rugby Championship.

SPRINGBOKS REMAIN TEAM TO BEAT

It has been a summer dominated by the southern hemisphere and South Africa were not immune to that.

Wales beat the Springboks in South Africa for the first time and further defeats to New Zealand and Australia ruffled feathers but a professional win over Argentina showed they are still the team to beat.

The Springboks’ infamous ‘Bomb Squad’ means they always have three of the best front row forwards in the world on the pitch, while in Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager they surely have the best second row pairing on the globe too.

Malcom Marx was at his very best, and with the Springboks on the front foot, Jaden Hendrikse exploited the Pumas defence superbly at scrum-half to put them in prime position to claim the title.

PUMAS MUST BE ADMIRED

In 2019, Argentina failed to reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, a huge disappointment after making the semi-finals four years previously but they are showing signs of returning to their best ahead of the 2023 edition.

A first victory away in New Zealand and a smashing 48-17 win over the Wallabies shows this Argentina team can beat anyone.

Although it was not to be on Saturday, Michael Cheika’s men trailed the Springboks by just two points with six minutes to go.

Scoring two tries in three minutes was a reminder of what the Pumas are capable of while against arguably the best forward pack in the world, they also won two scrums against the head.

The abrasive Argentina pack is back and led expertly by experienced hookers Julian Montoya and record-breaker Agustin Creevy, but there is so much more to their game than that – shown perfectly by Matias Moroni’s try.

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