Hansen defends ABs’ patchy performance
Sat, 08 Sep 2012 11:30p.m.
By Daniel Gilhooly
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has defended his side's patchy performance in quelling Argentina 21-5, pointing to horrendous Wellington weather and the fearsome defence of the visitors.
Another error-plagued New Zealand display came to life in the closing stages as they crossed through wingers Julian Savea and Cory Jane to maintain their perfect start to the four-nation tournament.
Argentina defended resolutely through the first three-quarters of the match but lost their way when flanker Julio Farias Cabellos was sinbinned in the 59th minute.
A patchy spectacle will be remembered most for a halftime break which lasted nearly half an hour due to a power outage which plunged Westpac Stadium into darkness.
Winds peaked at 160km/h in Wellington which tore roofs off houses and uprooted trees and caused the power cut.
Both teams returned to their changing sheds as the floodlights took about 15 minutes to warm up following a loss of power in the port area of the city.
Hansen played down the impact of the delay on his team but said the conditions, most notably in the first half, had played a major role.
"Tonight's a difficult night to talk about improving your execution," Hansen told journalists.
"In the first half we tried to move the ball at times when we should have held onto it and our ball security wasn't that great.
"Part of it too was the intensity the Argentinians brought to this game.
"In years to come I think we're going to look back at this and say this was the start of something new.
"They're only going to get better and better. They're a very good side at the moment, probably one of the best defensive sides in the world."
Aaron Cruden, a late replacement for Dan Carter at five-eighth, landed penalties in the ninth and 24th minutes, either side of a try to veteran Pumas prop Rodrigo Roncero.
Cruden put his side 9-5 up in the 51st minute and Argentina's hopes were dented eight minutes later when Cabello was shown a yellow card for a professional foul, deliberately knocking the ball down as Jane tried to link with outside support as the tryline beckoned.
The All Blacks exploited their advantage when centre Conrad Smith drew two defenders to set up Savea's try.
Victory was sealed with nine minutes to play when Jane was the recipient of a neat long pass by Cruden, who landed the sideline conversion to complete an 11-point haul.
"I thought our second half, we executed pretty good," Hansen said.
"Our ball security was a lot better, we ran better lines and we put more pressure on in our cleanout.
"We were possibly unlucky not to score another couple of tries, particularly the one when the guy got yellow carded, which probably would have resulted in a try."
Argentina coach Santiago Phelan said the mood was similar to the reaction after their 16-all draw with South Africa two weeks ago.
"Obviously we are disappointed about the result but are happy with how the players are attacking the game," he said.
"We will try to do the same next week against Australia."
It was a 13th straight Test win for the All Blacks, who remain unbeaten in 15 Tests against Argentina.
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