New Zealand made it three Rugby Championship titles in a row after knocking off host Argentina 35-17 at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires, in the wee of Sunday 30 September during a fifth round duel.
Five converted tries for the Allblacks against two tries and as many conversions for Argentina plus a penalty meant the title was gone a week early rendering a New Zealand visit to South Africa next weekend in the sixth and final round a mere formality.
Tries from Rieko Ioane (2), Waisake Naholo, Patrick Tuipulotu and Anton Lienert-Brown saw Allblacks prevail, with Beauden Barrett kicking eight points while replacement Richie Mo’unga added the other conversion for New Zealand. They led 21-3 at half time.
Tomas Cubelli and Emiliano Boffelli scored the two tries for Argentina while Nicolas Sanchez kicked seven points.
Argentina came to the game on the back of a rare 23-19 win over Australia at the Gold Coast two weeks back, their first win on Australian soil since 1983, as New Zealand were reeling from a 36-34 home loss to South Africa the same weekend.
After five rounds New Zealand are on 21 points, South Africa second on 14 points with Argentina third with eight, three better than Australia whom they host in their final game next Saturday.
Argentina: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Matias Moroni, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Matias Orlando, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere
New Zealand: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock (c), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Richie Mo’unga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown
Additional reporting by sanzarrugby.com