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All Blacks hang on against Pumas

By By Daryl Fenemor

Published: 1:31PM Sunday June 25, 2006 Source: One Sport

The All Blacks have just managed to maintain their unbeaten record against Argentina after battling to a 25-19 win at Velez Sarfield Stadium, Buenos Aires on Sunday.

Argentina scored a try in the first half and four penalties to Federico Todeschini kept them in the match with the All Blacks having tries to Leon MacDonald, Dan Carter and Scott Hamilton.

Rain during the day and some drizzle during the game made conditions difficult and both sides tried to kick themselves into good field position and test the opposition with high kicks.

Flowing rugby was also a struggle with the regular sound of referee Nigel Whitehouse's whistle as most breakdowns brought a penalty to one of the sides.

Both teams were reduced to 14-men late in the match with Pumas winger Jose Nunez Piossek and All Blacks fullback Leon MacDonald given yellow cards for ruck infringements leaving the All Blacks to defend desperately in the dying minutes.

It was a tough battle up front where neither side was able to gain a decisive upper hand but the All Blacks showed they had more quality with ball in hand as the home side stuck to 10 man rugby.

The All Blacks lost a couple of early lineouts with the second leading to an Argentinian break which brought a penalty that Federico Todeschini slotted from 35 metres.

New Zealand's first points also came through a penalty with Dan Carter landing his first attempt from over 40 metres to level the scores after 10 minutes.

The first real backline move produced a try to Leon MacDonald. The move started on the left hand wing on halfway with some good passes putting Rico Gear in some space on the right wing. From the breakdown five metres from the line MacDonald was quick to spot a gap down a short blindside.

Todeschini just missed a penalty attempt from his own half before having success with his next effort to close the gap to two points.

The Pumas then went back in front with a try to Martin Durand after halfback Agustin Pichot spotted the All Blacks defence short on the blindside. A couple of draw and passes gave the blindside flanker a 20 metre run to the try line untouched.

An impressive rolling maul from a lineout led to another penalty for Todeschini as the All Blacks were unable to legally repel a powerful and controlled drive from the Argentine forwards.

A piece of individual Carter brilliance closed the gap with a dummy and a left foot step putting the world's best first five-eighth under the posts off an attacking five metre scrum.

Todeschini missed his two more penalty attempts from near halfway to leave the halftime score 16-15 to the home side.

There were nine penalties against the All Blacks in the first half as they struggled with the interpretation of referee Nigel Whitehouse, particularly at the breakdown.

New Zealand started the second half strongly but Carter missed a drop goal attempt from 30 metres and two penalties from halfway.

The All Blacks were finally rewarded after 50 minutes with Scott Hamilton scoring a try on debut after a good break from Jason Eaton. Chris Masoe was in support and his attempted offload was kicked over the try line by an Argentine foot with Hamilton first to pounce.

The lead was shaved to three after another penalty to Todeschini. Carter returned the favour. Todeschini was unsuccessful with his next attempt as the match entered the final quarter.

The high penalty count at the rucks finally led to winger Jose Nunez Piossek being sinbinned. Carter missed the penalty.

A great break created by Carter with support from Masoe and Tuitupou was just snuffed out by an intercept.

The sides were made level with MacDonald sent to the bin for hands in the ruck.

Argentina continued to drive at the All Blacks as the crowd reached fever pitch but the visitors just managed to repel the final moments on their line to maintain their unbeaten record against the Pumas.

The All Blacks name their 30-man squad for the Tri-Nations on Tuesday with their first match in that competition against Australia in Christchurch on July 8.

Argentina: Tries: Martin Durand. Cons: Federico Todeschini. Pens: Todeschini (4).

All Blacks: Tries: Leon MacDonald, Dan Carter, Scott Hamilton. Cons: Carter (2). Pens: Carter (2).