|New Zealand||33 – 10
(12 – 7)
New Zealand have beaten Argentina by 23pts and now face Australia in the Rugby World Cup semi-final next Saturday.
The Australia team won 11-9 against South Africa.
In the end, New Zealand emerged comfortable 33-10 winners against a brave Argentina side that for sixty minutes threatened to bring the host’s World Cup run to a premature end.
In an action packed match full of ferocious hitting the Pumas managed to stifle the All Blacks normal free flowing rugby
They held New Zealand without a try until the 68th minute when Kieran Reid plunged over following a pass from Jerome Kaino to finally give the home side some breathing space.
Until than the All Blacks had relied on the boot of scrum half Piri Weepu who kicked 21 points in all missing just one of his eight shots at goal.
The big talk before the game had been about how Colin Slade would fare replacing the Dan Carter shaped hole in the number 10 jersey. In the end he limped off after just half an hour, a nervous drop that nearly cost New Zealand a try, his one real contribution.
Youngster Aaron Cruden replaced him. Depending on the severity of Slade’s injury could now be in line to make his first test start in the semi final against Australia.
After a frantic start, two penalties from Weepu gave New Zealand a 6-0 lead. The first came when prop Rodrigo Roncero was adjudged offside in the 12thminute. Roncero was also responsible for the second penalty, Nigel Owen s adjudging him to have collapsed a scrum six minutes later.
They were unlucky not to be further in front when Kieran Reid was denied a try after the video referee adjudged his foot touched the sideline before he managed to touch down.
It was the Argentinean’s who crossed the try line first. Flanker Julio Farías Cabello dived over in the right corner, after a powerful run from number 8 Leonardo Santoro and good handling by the Argentinean backline.
Contempomi kicked the conversion to make it 7-6. However, he was soon penalised for a high tackle on the substitute Cruden allowing Weepu to make it 9-7.
Another Weepu penalty gave New Zealand a 12-7 lead at half time.
Centre Marcelo Bosch kicked a penalty six minutes into the second half to reduce the deficit to just two and really put the pressure on the All Black.
With the tension in the ground rising Weepu responded with a penalty of his own and than Nicolas Vergallo was sent to the sin bin for not releasing the tackler close to the Argentinean line.
Weepu converted the penalty to make the score 18-10 to the All Blacks.
With Vergalo still off the pitch Read scored the decisive try. Weepu missed the conversion but added a 72nd-minute penalty to give the host’s a 16-point advantage.
Thorn’s try and Cruden’s conversion gave the score line a better gloss and the final result was harsh on Argentina who fought valiantly.
New Zealand will have to perform a lot better if they hope to avoid their customary surprise exit against Australia next week