New Zealand 26-16 Argentina: All Blacks finish stunning weekend with win
After an opening set of fixtures full of shocks at the rugby World Cup, it looked like Wembley was about to see another as Argentina squared up against one of the tournament favourites New Zealand.
Three Dan Carter penalties had put the All Blacks 9-0 up after 19 minutes and it looked like they were on their way to a comfortable victory in their first match in the competition.
However, the battling Argentinean side fought on and crossed the line when second rower Guido Pettit forced the ball over from close range. It was Carter who perhaps was a fault for the try, as the fly-half should have been closer to the ruck, protecting the goal line from a possible carry from the Pumas.
Nicolas Sanchez converted the first try of the game, but the scorer was forced off with concussion after Carter’s knee made contact with his head. Some fans have claimed the contact was on purpose, but several replays show that it was genuinely accidental.
Three further penalties, two for the Pumas, were converted as they took a slender 13-12 lead into the half time break. Fans across the world had witnessed Japan’s World Cup upset against the Springboks the day before, and another one looked possible at this point.
Argentina had shown previously they have the character to cause an upset, after beating hosts France in the opening game of the 2007 finals.
And another Sanchez penalty after the restart extended their lead, but the introduction of cross-code star Sonny Bill Williams swung the tide in the All Blacks favour.
Straight away he burst through the impressive Argentina defence before offloading to wing Milner-Skudder, but the winger spilled the ball out of play when he had the try-line at his mercy.
However, minutes later New Zealand did regain control of the game when Aaron Smith crossed the whitewash following a well-executed line out. Argentina did drive the resulting maul back, but the ball popped out to Smith who in space was free to dive over.
Argentina continued to hold firm, with their robust defence constantly stopping the impressive All Blacks attack but It was one-way pressure and the defence finally gave way when Sam Cane jogged under the posts to give New Zealand breathing room.
Argentina were impressive for large portions of the game, giving everything for the cause, making plenty of tackles but came up short. They pushed the holders all the way but left with nothing.
Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the All Blacks, who gave their South American opponents a guard of honour as they left the field.
The spectacle was watched by 89,019 at Wembley, which is a new record for the tournament.