“It’s extremely satisfying,” said All Blacks skipper Sam Cane. “There’s no hiding we’ve had a tough three weeks now. We felt the pain of the loss, we’re proud of the work we’ve put in. I’m proud of the way we were able to stay patient and we got there in the end.
“There’s pressure, but that’s what playing for the All Blacks is all about. We’ve been really happy, very driven and have worked extremely hard to try and get better. We were a lot better tonight.”
From the start, this looked to be a very different All Blacks beast than the one that was tamed a fortnight ago. The carries had venom and that poise and crispness in attack, for so long a hallmark of their play, was back in a big way.
It was difficult to see how their defence had reshaped given the Pumas barely had a touch in the first 15 minutes of play. Their line-out was coughing up ball and the All Blacks needed no added invitation to turn pressure into points, with Dane Coles diving over in the corner and Richie Mo’unga helping himself to a penalty to make it 10-0 after 16 minutes.
Caleb Clarke looked as if he would score for all money but couldn’t keep his feet with the line in sight after 23 minutes. Mo’unga had sliced through on the previous phase and Argentina needed all of their scrambling defence to deny New Zealand a second.
When they did get the ball, the attack threw little the men in black couldn’t handle, nor could the Pumas handle the ball themselves. With the All Blacks ultra-aggressive in defence and the hot conditions making for a slippery pill, the scales were starting to tip overwhelmingly towards New Zealand.
Yet for all of their territorial dominance and glut of possession, the All Blacks were struggling to add to the 10-0 lead as the clocked ticked towards half-time. And by the time the whistle was blown, Argentina were still showing a pulse in the Hunter.
Clarke botched one early in the second half when he couldn’t hold onto the short ball with the line just a metre away. Somehow Argentina were clinging on but the All Blacks continued to massacre their scrum and the scoreline was never going to remain static for much longer.
Ardie Savea simply smashed his way through the line-out set play and the All Blacks moved to a 17-0 lead, a margin far more befitting the manner in which the match had played out to that point.
Now it became about the pursuit of the bonus point, and Will Jordan was happy to oblige as he helped himself to his first Test try. The Pumas came up with a sloppy backline shift and the winger scooped it up to gallop away and score under the posts for a 24-0 lead.
He was at it again just a few minutes later and now things were just getting nasty. A mountain of defending was taking its toll and the All Blacks were scoring for fun. The only slight hiccup for the All Blacks was an 81st minute yellow card for Tyrel Lomax, who was marched for a clumsy clean-out.