Fast-finishing All Blacks down Pumas

Fast-finishing All Blacks down Pumas

Fast-finishing All Blacks down Pumas

The All Blacks have overturned a surprise seven-point second-half deficit to defeat Argentina 39-22 in their Rugby Championship Test in New Plymouth.

Last-gasp winners two weeks ago against Australia, the world champions again were forced to work for Saturday's victory over Los Pumas, who never relented.

After two losses last month to South Africa, the Argentines produced a significantly better performance and took a shock 16-15 lead into halftime.

The All Blacks, who were guilty of some sloppy play, eventually turned the match around to secure the win.

A man down after Beauden Barrett's yellow card, speedy blindside forward Vaea Fifita repaid the faith of coach Steve Hansen to gallop over in his first Test start.

Further tries to Damian McKenzie and Barrett closed out the match.

The victory keeps the pressure off Steve Hansen's troops ahead of next weekend's showdown with South Africa in Albany.

Argentina will cross the Tasman to face Australia.

Brilliant and frustrating in equal measure, the All Blacks scored three dazzling first-half tries, only for poor goalkicking and a late blunder to let them down.

They drew first blood in the eighth minute, with McKenzie slicing through the Pumas' rear-guard to put Test returnee Nehe Milner-Skudder over, before grabbing further first-half tries through Anton Lienert-Brown and stalwart Israel Dagg.

Argentina could only score via the boots of Emiliano Boffelli and Nicolas Sanchez, who nabbed two penalty goals and a drop goal between them.

Los Pumas had the last laugh in the first half, with a botched Kiwi lineout giving Sanchez the chance to roll over the line on the halftime hooter.

Staring down the barrel of a first Test defeat to Argentina, the All Blacks' second half began in the worst possible way, with another Sanchez three-pointer followed by a Barrett yellow card for repeated ruck infringements.

Fifita, McKenzie, Barrett and the steady boot of Lima Sopoaga settling the match.

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