All Black discipline a concern as Boks await
REACTION: New Zealand coach Steve Hansen believes his team will need to improve their discipline ahead of their final Rugby Championship match of the year.
The All Blacks, who clinched the Rugby Championship a fortnight ago already, scored three late first-half tries to set up a 36-17 triumph over Argentina in Buenos Aires at the weekend.
Two yellow cards to the All Blacks aided the Pumas as they staged a comeback from 3-29 behind at half-time to outscore their rivals during the second half without ever threatening to win.
Loosehead prop Joe Moody went to the bin for a swinging arm, while blindside flank Liam Squire spent 10 minutes on the sidelines for repeated penalties.
Victory moved New Zealand closer to a world-record 18 consecutive victories.
The reigning World Cup champions will achieve that feat if they defeat South Africa in Durban next Saturday and Australia in Auckland on October 22.
However, Hansen was frustrated by his side's ill-disciplined second half display against Los Pumas.
Hansen told reporters after the match his side had made life unnecessarily difficult for themselves with their second-half showing.
"Argentina came out and made it difficult and the referee felt we were ill-disciplined and penalised us with two guys in the bin," Hansen said.
"It was pretty frustrating after such a good first half where I thought we attacked and defended well, played our game."
Vice-captain Ben Smith, who scored a try early in the second half, echoed his coach's remarks.
He felt his side's discipline was lacking in the second 40.
"We defended pretty well considering we had those two yellow cards but we just found it hard to change the momentum in the game," Smith said.
The bad news for the rest of the world was not just the five-try blitz that triggered the weekend's victory.
A year after Richie McCaw and Dan Carter led a golden generation of players into test retirement, the production line of talent that has kept the All Blacks top of the world rankings for nearly a decade shows no sign of slowing down.
Hansen gave starts to a trio of inexperienced players and was rewarded with a bruising performance from lock Patrick Tuipulotu.
Squire's match was complicated by a "team" yellow card doled out in the second half, but the pick of the bunch was undoubtedly centre Anton Lienert-Brown.
The 21-year-old's 27th minute try, crashing over the line after Beauden Barrett showed quick hands to get him the ball, was the least spectacular of his contributions to four of New Zealand's five scores.
Two brilliant offloads gave tries to Ryan Crotty and Ben Smith while his charge-down of a Santiago Gonzales Iglesias kick led to a score for hooker Dane Coles, but only after Lienert-Brown had lobbed the ball inside for the final pass.
"[He] is growing all the time and one thing he has got is a beautiful offloading game and we saw a lot of that from him," Hansen told reporters at Velez Sarsfield.
"As he gets older and plays more rugby I think that'll be one of his trademarks.
"Patrick played particularly well in his first half. He had some strong carries and some great defensive work," Hansen added.
Sources: NZ Newswire & AFP