RUGBY UNION

Pumas scare All Blacks ahead of title showdown

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen urges his side to up their game for Rugby Championship decider against South Africa this weekend

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 3:42am

New Zealand's first-half struggles against a fired-up Argentina may serve as a warning to the All Blacks going into their Rugby Championship decider against South Africa this weekend.

The All Blacks spent most of the opening period camped inside their own half as the Pumas put them under intense pressure, but they weathered the storm to lead 11-9 at the break before running out 33-15 winners.

South Africa (18) are five points behind Zealand (23) in second place and need a bonus-point victory by more than seven points in Johannesburg to claim the title on Saturday.

"I wasn't that pleased with the first half. I thought we lacked urgency, we lacked the ability to control the game whenever we had the ball, and our scrum was under pressure. We were untidy with our game," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said.

Asked whether he was saving players for the decider in South Africa with the replacements he made, some quite early in the second half, Hansen said: "This match was not about [this week], it was about today, we had little left in the tank.

"We've got to give Argentina a fair bit of credit, It was a tough game with a lot of running. I believe we're a fit side with a bench that goes quite deep and I'm happy to have faith in them."