All Blacks open with win over Pumas

New Zealand have opened their Rugby Championship campaign with an emphatic 39-18 win over Argentina in Christchurch.

The three-time defending champions produced a performance on Friday night that was a big step up from their patchy win over Samoa last week.

There were some relentless passages of attack and Argentina showed some stoic defence to stay in touch until late in the opening spell.

When the Pumas did get the ball, they came up against a rushing defence and also found their vaunted scrummaging placed under pressure by the All Blacks.

However, they did show resilience to hit back with two quick tries to skipper Agustin Creevy midway through the second spell when it looked like New Zealand would run away with the game.

There was an encouraging All Blacks Test debut from winger Waisake Naholo, who was safe under the bomb and was dangerous with ball in hand.

Reserve hooker Codie Taylor also got a first cap, joining great-great-grandfather Walter Pringle as a New Zealand representative.

Taylor got on the scoresheet as well, scoring after the All Blacks had dominated a defensive Argentine scrum.

The All Blacks took an early 6-3 lead before scoring the game’s opening try through skipper Richie McCaw midway through an opening spell in which they faced a stiff breeze.

McCaw chose to kick for the corner from a penalty and the decision paid dividends.

The flanker – playing his 139th Test to go level with Australian George Gregan and behind just Irishman Brian O’Driscoll (141) in the list of most capped players – was on hand to finish off the ensuing lineout drive.

The home side then made a telling blow after the first-half hooter.

A long period of attack ended with centre Ma’a Nonu forcing his way over and Dan Carter’s sideline penalty making it a comfortable 18-6 at the break.

With the wind at their backs, the All Blacks continued with the job in the second spell.

Winger Charles Piutau finished off a clinical attack, before No.8 Kieran Read got the bonus-point try after a Pumas mistake deep in their own territory.

But Argentina did respond with Creevy’s two tries in six minutes, both from similar circumstances.

They kicked to the corner from a penalty and their lineout mauling proved hard to stop.

However, the All Blacks finished strongly and opened out the gap again through Taylor’s try.

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