ARGY-BARGY: ALL Blacks 67 Los Pumas 19
ALL Black power rode rough-shod over Argentinian aggro at Jade Stadium tonight with the Anton Oliver led New Zealand pack paving the way for an impressive 10 try, 67-19 victory over a tough Puma XV.
Despite early ruffles at scrum-time the All Black eight took control of the ball from the outset and with the hardened Puma front-row failing to dominate, as they hoped, the New Zealanders soon began to asset their superiority.
Tana Umaga was the first to benefit from his forward's surging drives when he crossed the opening score. And even at this stage, despite valiant Argentinian efforts, it was apparent the men in black were looking forward to an inspirational performance.
With Norm Maxwell ruling the lineout and the All Black defence forcing turnovers ample possession from phase to phase saw strapping lock Troy Flavell charging, stag-like, with the ball in hand on several bullocking runs and his emergence as a runner in the mode of Colin Meads re-incarnate will have Tony Gilbert licking his lips.
Another young All Black to shine was debutant No-8 Jerry Collins whose rugged no-nonsense 100 percent work-rate shone brighter as the game wore on.
Unfortunately the saddest sight of the game was the wunderkind from Cannon's Creek being helped off with a painful shoulder injury only to shrug off the pain to re-enter the fray only to break-down again to be replaced and face the tragic of possibility of being out injured for the test against France in his Wellington home town next week.
Despite Collins demise the All Black's maintained their dominance and following Umaga's try the Jade crowd was treated to further two five pointers from Pita Alatini and another to Taine Randell.
All these trys resulted from excellent phase to phase continuity featuring powerful surges, deft passes and jinky runs that simply left the Pumas defence in their wake.
Resuming the half leading 29-14 the All Blacks still had to fully assert their authority but were soon to put the boot to the throat after being inspired mid-way through the half by an ugly act of violence by Pumas loosehead Roberto Grau who run in and kneed the in-form Flavell in the ribs sidelining him with a possible break.
Grau was sin-binned but the All Blacks were seething and turned up the power to end the half with six outstanding trys to one.
Included among the All Blacks crossing the Puma line were Flavell's replacement the rangy Cantabrian Chris Jack; tearaway openside Mary Holah; hard-running fullback Leon 'Rangi' MacDonald; pacy three-quarter Doug Howlett and Jeff Wilson scored a brace to take his total to record equalling 42.
And while the superiority of the All Blacks was obvious the Pumas struggled hard for eighty minutes and that they were so outclassed was a reflection on the calibre of the New Zealand effort rather than the weakness of the Argentine challenge.
After an away victory over the Springbok the French opposition next week is sure to be a class above the South Americans and Wayne Smith will take heart from a very positive All Black display.
In addition to Collins
and Flavell the skipper Oliver was outstanding as was
half-back Justin Marshall while at centre and lock Umaga and
Maxwell proved their world class and if both can go on they
will certainly be extremely influential in harder games to