Rugby World Cup: New Zealand avoids upset

Cane, a member of the 2011 Under-20 World Cup-winning side, played Super Rugby for the Chiefs as a teenager and made his New Zealand senior debut in 2012.

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New Zealand have strength in depth in all areas and a slew of replacements after the break helped to change the course of the game.

It was the blue and white shirts, flags and wigs of the Argentina fans that stood out among the 90,000 people making the short walk up Wembley Way to Britain’s biggest arena for the Pool C clash.

Argentina halfback Tomas Cubelli says the deafening support was appreciated by his team, who led until midway through the second half. If you’ve got talent and ability to improve then it’s a different beast you’re going to get the next time you play.

“We’ve had a plan from day one about what we’re going to do”, said Hansen who stepped up to become head coach after assisting Graham Henry when the All Blacks won in 2011. The All Blacks also hold the records for most points at a RWC (361 in 2003) and tries at a RWC (52 in 2003).

Performing their traditional Ka Mate haka, the team formed an arrowhead formation with Richie McCaw in the vanguard, a move which was coincidentally reminiscent of the French challenge to the haka in the last World Cup final at Eden Park when the Tricolours formed behind their inspirational captain Thierry Dusautoir, a challenge which nearly resulted in a shock victory.

The All Blacks’ newest captain celebrated with a hug from his mum.

New Zealand, deep enough to replace star backs Ma’a Nonu and Nehe Milner-Skudder with star backs Sonny Bill Williams and Beauden Barrett, had new energy and urgency, and forced another lineout in Argentina’s left corner. Carter’s conversion made it 19-16. They think the schedule serves them well: Get their hardest one out of the way first.

The pressure yielded penalties, both kicked by Nicolas Sanchez, that gave Argentina a 13-12 half-time lead. “So he didn’t do very well in our fitness pre-tournament camps we went on”, said Fitzpatrick on Off The Ball tonight.

Argentina, while down a man, scored the first try of the match through lock Guido Petti Pagadizaval.

“Every other team here are here to win and that makes it really tough and the beauty of this tournament is there are probably a good six, seven, eight teams that could win this but that’s the challenge that we’re walking towards”.

Minnows Namibia are next up for the All Blacks at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday, while Georgia play Argentina in Gloucester on Friday.

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“We can’t just assume that Namibia will lie down because they won’t”.

Steve Hansen