New Zealand had to work hard to secure a 26-16 Rugby World Cup win in Pool C on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. A record World Cup crowd of 89 019 attended as the All Blacks were put through their paces by a tough Argentine outfit that eventually ran out of gas. The South Americans did an excellent job in the first half of finding and creating the necessary space to unbalance the Kiwis and generated much danger.
However, Los Pumas conceded three penalties and the educated boot of Dan Carter was never going to make a mistake leading to a 9-0 advantage after 19 minutes. However, it was Daniel Hourcade’s men who crossed the line first in a move that displayed their danger with ball in hand when Guido Petti burst through the black defence to become his country’s youngest ever player to score in a World Cup. Nicolas Sanchez converted to make it 9-7.
The kicks continued to be traded by Carter and Sanchez but worryingly for the world champions they were on the receiving end of two yellow cards at one stage and trailed 13-12 at the break. Any sniff of an upset was doused by Steven Hansen’s side in the second half. The New Zealanders’ replacements were superior to what Hourcade could do add to shake things up and the All Blacks dominated in the contact situations, recycled well and it was Aaron Smith who broke the line from loose play to score and after Carter’s conversion it was 19-16 to the World Cup holders.
The defending champions were a step ahead after that 56th minute try and might have added more to their score but for some resolute Pumas defending. Ultimately a third try would arrive through Sam Cane 10 minutes later but after that it was just a case of making sure of the result as the All Blacks enjoyed a winning start to their Webb Ellis Cup defence. Argentina will now turn its attention to Friday in Gloucester when it comes up against Georgia, who saw off Tonga 17-10 on Saturday.