New Zealand snatched South Africa’s world number one ranking and placed one hand on the Rugby Championship trophy after subjecting Argentina to a second successive thrashing within a week in Brisbane on Saturday.
The All Blacks’ 36-13 bonus-point victory in front of 38,000 at Lang Park extended their lead to 10 points over second-placed South Africa in the Rugby Championship table while knocking Argentina and Australia out of the tournament.
South Africa, beaten 30-17 by Australia in the first match of Saturday’s double-header, will need to defeat New Zealand twice and pile on the tries in their last two matches to earn bonus points to have any hope of stealing the silverware.
The scale of the Springboks’ task was underlined as a second-string All Blacks team ran over five tries to notch their fourth win from four matches in a dominant campaign.
“We obviously made a few changes and to keep our performance going with the new combination was pleasing,” All Blacks coach Ian Foster said.
“We didn’t change a lot of our game plans … I was delighted with the way we got through that.”
Lock Tupou Vaa’i grabbed a brace of tries, while Patrick Tuipulotu, scrumhalf TJ Perenara and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho also scored five-pointers as the All Blacks continued their rampaging form after hammering the Pumas 39-0 on the Gold Coast last Sunday.
It could have been much worse for Argentina as Foster’s side missed out on three tries in the first half and another in the second.
Two early tries were cancelled due to forward passes and a third to Rieko Ioane was ruled out before halftime after the centre lunged over illegally when brought down under the posts.
Young scrumhalf Finlay Christie blew the fourth when he fumbled the ball forward a metre out from an undefended line.
The injury-hit Pumas slumped to their fourth successive loss after opening defeats away to South Africa, but it was a better performance by Mario Ledesma’s side.
The All Blacks took a 24-3 lead into the second half but Pumas winger Emiliano Boffelli grabbed a 51st minute try and his conversion shaved the deficit to 16 points.
But New Zealand defended strongly in the last quarter before Vaa’i cantered over unmarked three minutes from the siren for his second try as a tired defence surrendered.
Foster said the All Blacks would celebrate the win but was unfazed about the world number one ranking.
“It doesn’t feel like you’re ever going to be at the top until you beat the team that’s at the top so let’s just wait and see,” he said.