Rugby Union: Higher plane for All Blacks

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The Independent Online
New Zealand 93

Argentina 8

New Zealand fired out a warning to the rest of the rugby world yesterday when they ran in tries almost at will against Argentina in the First Test at Athletic Park.

The All Blacks scored 14 tries - seven in each half - with the stand- off, Carlos Spencer, scoring 33 points, including two tries, on his full Test debut. Argentina, who a fortnight before had beaten England 33-13 in Buenos Aires, were simply blown off the pitch by the mesmerising speed of Spencer, the full-back, Christian Cullen, and the wings, Tana Umaga and Jeff Wilson.

All scored two electrifying tries each except for Wilson, who failed to get on the scoreboard but had a direct hand in two of the five pointers. It was not only the backs who took the glory, however, as four of the All Blacks forwards - Sean Fitzpatrick, Olo Brown, Ian Jones and Robin Brooke - also crossed for tries.

The Pumas finally scored a consolation try when from a ruck they went blindside and the wing Tomas Solari got the overlap and cantered 50 metres to score. But that was only a brief interruption to the onslaught. The All Blacks carried on playing with total arrogance and at one point the No 8, Zinzan Brooke, came to the Argentine 22, stopped and cross-kicked to the other side for his brother, Robin, to touch down.

The star of the show, however, was undoubtedly Spencer. The 21-year-old Auckland Blues' pivot slipped into the boots of the injured Andrew Mehrtens with ease, producing a performance full of flair and control.

New Zealand's victory followed their 71-5 win over Fiji in Auckland a week before and the manner of it left the Argentine coach, Jose Imhoff, uncharacteristically lost for words: "What can you say after a match like that?"

"That would have to be the best game I would have seen in terms of sustained play," the New Zealand coach, John Hart said, before generously paying his respects to the slaughtered Pumas: "Fiji tested us aerobically last week and Argentina tested us physically today."

New Zealand: C Cullen; J Wilson, F Bunce, L Stensness, T Umaga; C Spencer, J Marshall; C Dowd; S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown, R Brooke, I Jones, T Randell, Z Brooke, J Kronfeld.

Argentina: E Jurado; T Solari, E Simone, L Arbizu (capt), F Soler; G Quesada, F Miranda; R Grau, C Promanzio, M Reggiardo, G Llanes; P Sporleder, R Martin, P Camerlinckx, C Viel.

Referee: B Campsall (England).

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