NELSON, New Zealand (Reuters) - Argentina coach Mario Ledesma said his side gave away too many ‘soft points’ as New Zealand beat them 46-24 in their Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.
Despite the 22-point differential, the All Blacks needed two tries in the final six minutes to blow out the scoreline against a Pumas side who had them stretched across the field and under pressure for long periods of the game.
“We gave them too many easy points,” Ledesma said. “They didn’t have to work very hard for them.
“Penalty, penalty, lineout, try,” he added of what he thought was the pattern of play that led to one of the All Blacks’ six tries and typical of the run of the game in the second half.
“So we didn’t apply enough pressure on them. Even when we got close they scored another try and that was it.”
While the All Blacks led from the 18th minute when Nehe Milner-Skudder scored his side’s first try, they never really pulled away from the Pumas.
They were lucky to go into halftime leading 18-7 after a questionable non-try in the 32nd minute to centre Matias Moroni that could have swung the first-half momentum back to the South Americans.
The Pumas were trailing only 15-7 when Moroni finished off one of their numerous sweeping counter-attacks in the corner that would have, at the very least, reduced the deficit to 15-12.
Referee Pascal Gauzerre, however, had the try checked by the television match official, who discovered that Moroni’s boots had grazed the touchline as All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara made a desperate covering tackle.
“In the first half we had a few chances,” Ledesma said of the numerous linebreaks made by his scintillating back three of fullback Emiliano Boffelli and wingers Bautista Delguy and Ramiro Moyano.
“That (Moroni) try we scored, which I still think is a try, would have got us a bit closer.”
Ledesma said he suspected his players had not actually believed they could beat the All Blacks, with the opportunity there early in the second half when Nicolas Sanchez’s try got them to 18-14 and put their tails up.
“I don’t know if the boys really believed they could have won this game and at one point I thought that was the case,” Ledesma said.
“I know that’s hard to say when there is a 20-point difference... but I thought we had really nice tries and we also created a lot of opportunities too, against one of the best defences in the world, so that is really positive.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Clare Fallon