All Blacks down plucky Pumas
Wellington - The All Blacks struggled to a 21-5 (half-time 6-5) victory over a gallant Argentina at Westpac Stadium here on Saturday to remain unbeaten in the Rugby Championship despite another error-filled performance.
Argentina, with little possession but a well-organised defence, were still in with a chance until the 66th minute when the All Blacks scored the first of their two tries.
Coach Steve Hansen had said eliminating the indecision and poor option taking of their first two matches against Australia in the series had been the priority for this week but there was little sign of improvement.
Not even the gale packing winds of more than 100km/h battering the city could be blamed for the 20 turnovers conceded by the world champions.
The All Blacks now have three wins from three outings while Argentina have two losses and a draw but have shown they are not far off the pace in their first year in the southern hemisphere competition.
Their performance against the All Blacks raised questions about how much better they could have been if they were able to secure more than 34 percent possession and 33 percent of territory.
New Zealand's errors started in the opening minute when Luke Romano passed the ball to a linesman, unaware that wing Cory Jane had cut inside him.
In a rare Argentinean foray up to the All Black line, Ma'a Nonu attempted to run out of trouble but succeeded only in turning over the ball which the Pumas turned into a try to veteran prop Rodrigo Roncero.
Argentina maintained the lead for 11 minutes before Aaron Cruden landed a second penalty to put the All Blacks in front 6-5.
Nonu was guilty of a second knock on and Kieran Read and Aaron Smith also spilled the ball when the All Blacks were threatening the Argentine line.
Marcelo Bosch's ability to marshall a tight Argentinean defensive line was responsible for much of the All Blacks misfortunes as they searched for a way through.
When former Sevens star Victor Vito did find himself in the clear with a 22m run to the line it was outside centre Bosch who cut him down from behind just on half-time.
As the players were returning to the field after the break the ground was plunged into darkness
by a power outage causing a 15-minute delay before they were able to restart.
Cruden inched the All Blacks further ahead at 9-5 with a third penalty before Argentine flanker Julio Farias Cabello saved a try but earned a yellow card for slapping down the ball when the All Blacks had a two-man overlap.
While the All Blacks had the one-man advantage they scored their first try when the passes stuck and the ball went through the chain for Julian Savea to score in the corner.
They scored their second try five minutes later with a wide pass from Cruden cutting out two players to find an unmarked Cory Jane on the wing.
Tries: Julian Savea, Cory Jane
Conversion: Aaron Cruden
Penalties: Cruden (3)Argentina:
Try: Rodrigo RonceroTeams:
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Victor Vito, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Sam Whitelock, 19 Liam Messam, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Beauden Barrett, 22 Ben SmithArgentina:
15 Martin Rodriguez, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla, 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero.
Substitutes: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Leonardo Senatore, 20 Thomas Leonardi, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino