With a dramatic 25-18 Rugby Championship victory in Christchurch on Saturday, Argentina defeated the All Blacks for the first time in New Zealand, adding more pressure on coach Ian Foster.
Emiliano Boffelli’s 20 points from the boot helped the Pumas, who played with fervor and physicality, win the breakdown battle and record just their second victory over the All Blacks.
The home team, who blew a 15-6 lead early on, have now dropped six of their previous eight Tests and may anticipate harsher criticism now that the pressure has subsided following their 35-23 victory over the Springboks in Johannesburg last time out.
After consecutive losses to Ireland last month, they have already dropped three straight tests at home for the first time, and if they fall to the Pumas in Hamilton the following week, it might be four straight.
The triumph for Argentina extends their lead at the top of the Rugby Championship standings and comes after their historic 48-17 victory over Australia in San Juan.
The Pumas tackled themselves to a standstill, notably over the dramatic last minutes when they repeatedly denied the desperate hosts, who were led by nonstop flankers Pablo Matera and Marcos Kremer, the latter of whom was playing his 50th Test.
It was a valiant performance that uncannily mirrored their historic 25-15 victory over New Zealand in Sydney two years prior.
Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez made six penalties and a conversion on that particular occasion, matching the accomplishment of winger Boffelli, who made all seven of his efforts on goal.
Matera, a member of the Canterbury Crusaders who spent this season residing in Christchurch, broke down in tears after the game.
“It’s a dream come true to come back with my country and beat the All Blacks for the first time, it’s even more wonderful (than the Sydney win),” he exclaimed.
Julian Montoya, Argentina’s captain, wished for a trend where large Test victories became the norm.
As opposed to the first time (Sydney), “we’re starting to believe in what we can do and that it is not just a magic moment, like the Sydney incident,” he stated.
“All we have to do is keep working. Since we have another game in seven days, we must now appreciate this. I am, therefore, incredibly proud. extremely happy.
“This is for everyone that rises up at 4:30 in the morning to see this back home. This is a truly unique occasion for us, and I’m quite proud of us.
After deciding to reappoint Foster last week, despite the head coach’s dismal All Blacks standards track record, New Zealand Rugby can anticipate facing criticism from its detractors.
Foster’s job was confirmed through to the World Cup of the following year after a solid performance at Ellis Park, which was enough to persuade the New Zealand Rugby board to commit.
The issues that plagued New Zealand during the series loss to Ireland last month and the ensuing humiliating loss to the Springboks in Mbombela, though, were still present.
They lacked the essential aggressiveness in contact with opponents whose confidence grew as the game went on because they were disorganized on offense and without the necessary strength.
Boffelli was able to keep the scoreboard moving by giving up 14 penalties, which led to a stop-start game that favored the visitors.
Sam Cane, the captain of New Zealand, claimed that his team struggled under pressure.
He praised the Argentinian team, saying, “A lot of credit to them for the way they stayed with it and eventually turned the tables.”
“In the second half, they placed us under a lot of pressure, and we didn’t react as we had hoped. We made a few easy mistakes that we try to avoid doing.”
In the first half, Argentina never seemed to have a chance to score a try, but Boffelli kept them in the game, including two late penalties to cut their deficit to 15-12.
Samisoni Taukeiaho try was a lineout drive, but Caleb Clarke’s try was more impressive since it started with a Pumas lineout that was overthrown on the halfway line, and then the ball was promptly transferred through the hands in a rare smooth assault.
The second half began with a Richie Mo’unga penalty for New Zealand, but Argentina took the lead 19-18 with a flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez opportunist touchdown after New Zealand was unable to recover a kickoff.
Argentina’s strong defense dominated the final 30 minutes.
They consistently stopped New Zealand’s onslaught and used their possession skillfully, which led to two additional penalties that Boffelli successfully converted.