The All Blacks Sevens continued their winning form on the day two at the Las Vegas tournament, taking a hard-fought 17-5 win over Argentina today.
New Zealand attacked strongly in the opening stages, with the always busy Tim Mikkelson spreading it out wide to Milford Keresoma on the right flank, but Argentina were able to get numbers to the ruck and spoil the opportunity.
Moments later Mikkelson was called upon in defence, cutting down a strong-running Ramiro Moyano who had led Argentina inside Kiwi territory.
The stand-in skipper got straight to his feet to make a second try-saver, before backing up a third time to prevent the frantic Argentina attack from crossing in the corner. New Zealand were able to quickly regroup to win the ball at the breakdown, a ruck penalty helping to ease the pressure and allow the men in black to clear away.
With play moving down inside the Puma's half, Taranaki's Warwick Lahmert showed great speed to toe ahead a loose ball, regathering five out from the line to dive over out wide to give the All Blacks first points in the third minute.
Argentina were not deterred however, Moyano making another strong run through the midfield, the resulting ruck penalty allowing the Pumas to set up camp five metres out from the New Zealand line.
Two phases later the pressure told, with Matias Moroni diving over from a ruck to level the scores with less than a minute before the halftime break.
Early in the second term, New Zealand looked sharp in attack, crisp passing taking them to either side of the park, yet the determined Argentinian defence could not be outflanked.
The All Blacks eventually edged ahead after David Raikuna showed a brilliant step, stop and go to beat his man down the sideline, before feeding Mikkelson on the inside to score in the left corner.
Belgium Tuatagaloa confirmed New Zealand's top pool ranking by running in the last five-pointer, Raikuna again showing great footwork to carve through the Pumas line before offloading for the Wellington flyer to race 60 metres to score untouched under the bar.
Having won both their day one matches against France (21-0) and Wales (40-5), New Zealand now have a quarter-final match-up against Canada later tonight, while Argentina, who also advance to the Cup round, will face off against South Africa.
All Blacks Sevens 17 (Warwick Lahmert, Tim Mikkelson, Belgium Tuatagaloa tries; Tomasi Cama con)
Argentina 5 (Matias Moroni try)