Wilson adds the finishing touch

New Zealand 67 Argentina 19
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The Independent Online

The New Zealand All Blacks hammered Argentina with a powerful display of running rugby in a one-off Test here on Saturday night. New Zealand led 31-14 at half-time and eventually ran out comfortable winners with a try count of 10-2.

In a bruising affair, both packs set about pounding the other in a quest for forward supremacy. But the All Blacks soon gained the upper hand and the big Argentina forwards were left to pummel away with little reward.

Seven of the All Blacks' tries came through their backs, with Jeff Wilson equalling Christian Cullen's Test try-scoring record of 42 as he touched down twice. Two also went to newly capped forwards, with Marty Holah crossing the line in the 70th minute and Chris Jack in the 62nd.

But the All Black win was not without its casualties. No 8 Jerry Collins' first Test lasted just 33 minutes before he fell heavily on his right shoulder. He managed to return briefly but was forced to leave the field again, and appeared in some pain. Andrew Mehrtens also retired after 34 minutes with bad bruising and was replaced by Tony Brown.

The All Blacks' captain, Anton Oliver, who spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin for punching, was pleased that his team's game had been much more expansive than during their 50-6 win over Samoa a week ago.

"We tried a bit more tonight and it was good to flick the ball around. We made a few mistakes, but I'm really happy with 67 points against Argentina," he said. "They are the sort of team that make you pay if you don't get on top of them, but we did tonight and we're all very happy."

While the Argentina pack worked tirelessly, their three-quarters were mostly redundant, although they did manage to score two neat tries through Lisandru Arbizu and Gonzalo Camardon.

The Pumas time and again opted for forward drives from the base of scrums, mauls or line-outs but with limited success, even during a furious 10-minute spell when they pounded the New Zealand line during Oliver's yellow-card absence.

While the lack of variety failed to serve Argentina, the All Blacks showed plenty of adventure with tries by Tana Umaga, Troy Flavell, two from the impressive Pita Alatini, Leon MacDonald, two from Wilson, Jack, Doug Howlett and Holah.

Umaga and Alatini were particularly creative, ably supported up by a resurgent Wilson and the hard-working Brown.

Argentina's first try was a wonderful 60-metre effort, with the Pumas breaking out of defence after an All Black attack had broken down.

Camardon ran wide on the right and passed inside to lock Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, who drew full-back MacDonald before passing to captain Arbizu to finish off the move from 35 metres.

Camardon got the Pumas' second when he beat Wilson to a clever kick-through by Gonzalo Queseda.

It was just reward for an Argentine side whose performance merited more than a 48-point losing margin.

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