All Blacks all but win Tri Nations title


The All Blacks have all but secured the Tri Nations title following a 38-0 bonus-point victory over Argentina in Newcastle.

New Zealand’s four-try shut-out in Newcastle on Saturday night will leave the Wallabies and Pumas going through the motions in next week’s final match of the tournament.

The All Blacks jumped five points clear on the competition table after two tries in three minutes from replacement Will Jordan midway through the second half secured victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.





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New Zealand all but win Tri Nations title


The All Blacks have all but secured the Tri Nations title following a 38-0 bonus-point victory over Argentina in Newcastle.

New Zealand’s five-try shut-out on Saturday night will leave the Wallabies and Pumas going through the motions in next week’s final match of the tournament.

The All Blacks jumped five points clear on the competition table after two tries in three minutes from replacement Will Jordan midway through the second half secured victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.

To snatch the trophy, the Wallabies will have to beat the Pumas by 101 points in Sydney,

Alternatively, the Pumas must defeat the Wallabies by 93 points after conceding four second-half tries on Saturday night.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane said he got the response he was looking for from a team reeling after successive defeats, including a shock loss to the Pumas in Sydney two weeks ago.

“Extremely satisfying,” he said.

“There’s no hiding that we’ve had a tough three weeks. We felt the pain of the loss (to the Pumas).

“I’m proud of the way that we were able to stay patient and got there in the end.”

The Pumas were their own worst enemy.

“We were not clinical. Too many errors when we got the ball,” said Pumas captain Pablo Matera .

“Some silly mistakes in defence as well.”

After losing to Argentina and Australia, the All Blacks entered the game on the back of two straight defeats for the first time since 2011.

A third consecutive slip-up would have placed coach Ian Foster under immense pressure to keep his job.

But Jordan’s tries came after hooker Dane Coles crossed for the only five-pointer of the opening half to give the All Blacks a 10-0 lead at the break.

Ardie Savea and Patrick Tuipulotu put the icing on the cake for the All Blacks after the inspired and previously unbeaten Pumas were unable to win for the late Diego Maradona.

The All Blacks paid tribute to Maradona when Cane laid a New Zealand No.10 jersey on the field before the start of the game.

As the All Blacks lined up to perform the haka, Cane stepped out, walked toward midfield and laid down the jersey – with Maradona’s name and number on it – as Argentine players stood arm-in-arm and watched.

Several Argentine players nodded in acknowledgement of the gesture.

Maradona died on Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60 in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation on November 3.





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Tri Nations, New Zealand vs Argentina: Squads, how to watch, what time, Sam Cane, Michael Cheika


All Blacks skipper Sam Cane Friday said his team has an extra “edge” about them heading into their crunch clash with Argentina, driven by the “horrible” feeling of two straight defeats.

New Zealand are in the rare situation of trying to avoid three losses in a row, a fate they have not suffered since 1998.

Standing in their way at Newcastle, north of Sydney, on Saturday is an Argentinian side that not only beat them 25-15 in the Tri Nations this month, but followed it up with a battling draw against Australia.

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"I've let the country down"

“I’ve let the country down”

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Diego Maradona set to inspire Argentina’s Tri Nations tilt


“We were playing against the All Blacks and the game was starting, but then Diego came out,” Ledesma said. “He went the typical Diego way [with his arms raised at shoulder height] and everything stopped.

“The ref didn’t start the game. All the Argentinians were looking up at Diego and the All Blacks were looking at Diego. The world just stopped.

“He had an attraction. The world stopped when he was there. He was magic.”

Diego Maradona celebrates with Agustin Creevy in the Argentina dressing room at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Diego Maradona celebrates with Agustin Creevy in the Argentina dressing room at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.Credit:Getty

Maradona may have regularly stopped the world around him, but it is the Pumas who shocked the rugby world a fortnight ago.

Ledesma hopes the late, great 60-year-old – a proud Pumas fan – was watching.

“I hope, for him. Because the last couple of months have been really difficult for him and he’s been switching off slowly,” Ledesma said.

“Everybody felt it was coming. If we could have made him happy just a little bit, it would have been great.”

Ledesma now wants his side to use the memory of Maradona to help inspire a repeat dose at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday, putting one hand on the Tri Nations trophy in the process.

“He was a big figure in our country and he epitomised the way Argentinians are,” Ledesma said.

“We try to remember him the best way possible – which was on the field – representing his colours. He was an example of how you should play for this jersey.”

Ledesma hinted at an on-field tribute for Maradona on Saturday, though it won’t involve simply retiring Nicolas Sanchez’s No.10 jersey for the week.

Diego Maradona celebrates an Argentina try against Tonga at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Diego Maradona celebrates an Argentina try against Tonga at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.Credit:Getty

“For our generation, [Maradona was] a symbol,” Ledesma said. “It’s very iconic.

“We have really, really nice memories. I remember being in seventh grade when the ’86 World Cup was going on and we were happy because if we were at school, we would watch the games and we would go to the main square in our town all together.

“He united people in Argentina. Sometimes in Argentina, it’s difficult to unite people, especially people who think different.

“He was somebody that united, in many ways. Sometimes in a bad way, sometimes in a good way.

“He was unanimous.”

Meanwhile, Argentina assistant coach Michael Cheika called upon Penrith superstar Nathan Cleary to try and give his side an additional edge in their quest to hand the All Blacks their third straight loss for the first time since 1998.

Cleary was photographed with a handful of Pumas playmakers at Leichardt Oval on Thursday and Ledesma explained how the secret session came to be.

“That was Cheik, who spoke to Nathan’s coach – kicking coach – who is in New Zealand and couldn’t come, so he offered Nathan to come and give some pointers to the boys,” Ledesma said.

“Especially the younger boys, who sometimes don’t have a routine or bullet [points] or focus points.

“It was really nice of him to come and give us a hand. He spent some time with our young kickers and it was awesome. Being a big rugby league fan, I was happy to have him.”

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Tri Nations news, All Blacks vs Argentina: Squads, team lists, Ian Foster, Pumas, Patrick Tuipulotu, Shannon Frizell


Under-pressure coach Ian Foster made three changes to his forward pack Thursday to face Argentina as the All Blacks desperately look to avoid the ignominy of a third defeat in a row.

The three-time world champions have been under intense scrutiny from fans and pundits after shock losses to Australia and the Pumas in consecutive weeks during the Tri Nations.

If they fail to win on Saturday at Newcastle, north of Sydney, they will go down in the history books as the first New Zealand team to lose three in a row since 1998.

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"I've let the country down"

“I’ve let the country down”

1:12



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Pumas eye unthinkable Tri Nations triumph


Fitness or fatigue won’t be factors as the Pumas bid to turn the Tri Nations upside down with another earth-shattering win over the All Blacks on Saturday night.

The unfancied pre-tournament outsiders have emerged as potential champions after backing up their historic first-ever win over the All Blacks with a gritty draw against the Wallabies last Saturday.

If they can pick up anything from this week’s return bout with New Zealand in Newcastle – even a bonus point for a loss by fewer than seven points – the Pumas will be on the box seat to escort the coveted Tri Nations trophy back to Argentina.

That would be a mighty effort for a team that hadn’t played a Test in more than 400 days before their series-opening triumph over the All Blacks.

Some members of Mario Ledesma’s squad have had to quarantine twice, for a total of 28 days, since spending a fortnight holed up first in Uruguay and then in Sydney after joining the Pumas from Europe.

Despite the gruelling campaign, the Pumas remain upbeat about their chances of collecting the most significant piece of silverware in Argentine rugby history.

“We are not looking for excuses. We are looking for our best performance on Saturday. That is our focus,” Pumas assistant coach Nicolas Fernandez-Miranda told AAP on Monday.

“We are feeling very good, we are feeling excited. These are two very important weeks for us.

“The first one is New Zealand, focusing on that, putting our mind, our physical fitness and everything together to be as sharp as we can be on Saturday.”

The All Blacks will be smarting after suffering successive Test defeats for the first time in 2011, having lost to the Wallabies in Brisbane before falling to the Pumas in Sydney.

But even if they hit back with a win this week, the All Blacks will have to await the result of the Pumas’ last-round showdown with the Wallabies in Sydney to learn their fate.

Third at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and semi-finalists against in 2015, the Pumas are delighted to have control of their own destiny after fighting back from nine points down in the second half to secure a priceless 15-15 draw against the Wallabies at McDonald Jones Stadium.

“We are very proud of what we did in the first two games of the competition,” Fernandez-Miranda said.

“But our mind is on our job and what we are trying to do and trying to win this week as best as we can.

“I don’t know what people think in Argentina. We are very alone here and that’s very good for our team because we are just focused on the team and being as tight as we can and as together as we can.”





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Wallabies 2020 news: Nic White, Argentina draw, Dave Rennie, Tri Nations, leaderboard, Reece Hodge missed goal


Representing your country in itself is pretty special, but doing it so close to home was never something Nic White really gave much thought to.

That was until this week, when the Scone-born White assured he would keep his emotions in check when running out at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The result – a 15-all draw with Argentina – won’t necessarily take away from just how much the occasion meant but a shattered White said post-game that the moment was “tainted.”

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Wallabies draw with Pumas

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Wallabies vs Argentina, Tri Nations: Hair pull, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Pablo Matera, Taniela Tupou, Dave Rennie


Argentina should be the darlings of world rugby, after overcoming pandemic hurdles to score an historic win over the All Blacks.

But their heart-warming story is taking a turn for the worse with their outstanding captain Pablo Matera at the centre of the storm.

Matera has been widely criticised for pulling the hair of the Wallaby hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa during the 15-all Tri-Nations draw with the Wallabies in Newcastle.

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Wallabies draw with Pumas

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The seven minutes of madness that could cost the Wallabies Tri Nations glory


While they couldn’t crack the wall that was Argentina’s defence, they dominated every facet of play.

The attack – led by Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia and Tom Wright – looked slick. Petaia was millimetres away from scoring one of the most sensational tries of the year in the first half.

The forwards – led by Matt Philip and Taniela Tupou – were dominant with ball in hand. Crashing over the gain line was no problem.

The decision to start Scott Sio in front of Angus Bell proved a Rennie masterstroke as it was the loosehead side of the scrum which caused Argentina serious problems.

Hunter Paisami runs in to the Argentina defence at Newcastle on Saturday night.Credit:Getty

The lineout was wayward – largely due to crooked Brandon Paenga-Amosa throws – but the Argentinians coughed up their fair share of ball in that department, too.

So when Hodge slotted his fifth penalty to put the Australians in front 15-6 with 23 minutes to play, it felt like the Wallabies would run away with the match.

Then came the seven minutes of madness that has almost certainly cost the Wallabies the Tri Nations trophy.

Nicolas Sanchez slotted three penalties between the 64th and 71st minute.

One penalty came from a scrum against Australia’s feed but the other two infringements were brainless.

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The first came when Filipo Daugunu charged into a solid Argentinian line when he clearly should have kicked for territory. The other came when Matt Philip inexplicably picked up a Jake Gordon knock on from an offside position.

The Australians lost their heads and Rennie made that point after the match. It had every trademark of a team that does not yet know how to close out Tests.

The door has been opened for both New Zealand and Argentina.

If the All Blacks win with a bonus point on Saturday, they will have all but certainly secured the title.

But if the Pumas can repeat the dose from last weekend, they will have put one hand on the Tri Nations trophy.

The equation was much more simple for the Wallabies before the 15-all draw.

Now, they must sit back and hope New Zealand narrowly beat Argentina and then thump Mario Ledesma’s men at Bankwest.

That’s their only path to a fresh wave of optimism in 2021 – and the Tri Nations trophy.

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Wallabies vs Argentina Tri Nations Rugby 2020: Taniela Tupou vs Nicolas Sanchez fight video, Big Mac


Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou was left far from impressed with Argentine Nicolas Sanchez after the latter’s push to the face sparked a mini scuffle.

Tempers between Australia and Argentina threatened to boil over just before half-time of Saturday night’s Tri-Nations clash after Tupou and Sanchez clashed.

After Tupou picked a loose ball up, Sanchez swatted it out of Tupou’s hands, leading to a few pushes between the two players.

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