Round-up: All Blacks take title at a canter


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The Independent Online

New Zealand won the inaugural Rugby Championship yesterday after running in seven tries to defeat Argentina 54-15 in La Plata.

The victory gave the defending World Cup champions an unassailable nine-point lead with one round of matches to go in the tournament, something coach Steve Hansen aimed to achieve from the start.

"We set out to win the championship from day one, and to be able to do it so early is a reflection on how well the boys have worked and how well they've played," Hansen said.

"We train all week to do things with purpose and accuracy in our execution and by and large we achieved that."

South Africa and Australia are left fighting for second place and the Springboks ended a run of five consecutive defeats against the Aussies, winning 31-8 in Pretoria.

Bryan Habana scored a hat-trick as the Springboks moved up to second in the tournament standings behind New Zealand, who they face in Johannesburg next week.

Coach Henyeke Meyer said: "I'm just very happy for the side. I've said to the team we have to keep our feet on the ground, next week we have got a very big challenge."

Back on this side of the equator, Olly Barkley ended his Bath career on a high on Saturday, playing his last game before a move to Racing Métro.

The former England international, who expressed his sadness at his departure after the game, kicked 16 points as Bath ran out 31-10 winners over Sale at The Recreation Ground.

"Walking across the pitch after the game, the realisation that I won't be doing it again in a Bath jersey is quite sad. But I've had a fantastic time here," he said. "I will leave this place with a heavy heart, but also with a happy one."