Argentina surprise New Zealand with historic Rugby League win

All Blacks manager Ian Foster said his side needed to keep their cool late in the game after losing to Argentina at home for the first time in Christchurch. Traditionally good finishers, New Zealand looked to have the game in the bag when Richie Mo’unga gave them an 18-12 lead eight minutes into the second half, only for the Pumas to call off the restart and score a try on their way to a 25-18 win.

“We conceded that try at kick-off, luckily, and after that they developed an arm and a leg, and we probably got a little nervous,” he said. “So we have to look at our composure in the later stages, especially with the bench coming in, and we just have to make sure we’re a bit more ruthless when breaking down.”

It was the fourth time in six games this season that Foster had been forced to explain a loss for a team that traditionally had just one or two a year. Foster said the Pumas’ ability to turn the ball over on the break down and officiating from the tackle zone was a key factor in the loss. “Congratulations to Argentina, they stayed true to their way of playing, they really frustrated us,” he added.

Argentina pushes a maul forward.
Argentina pushes a maul forward. Photography: Joe Allison/Getty Images

“We didn’t get what we wanted out of the blue. We had great periods of dominance in our free kick but it didn’t go well in the end. But overall they got away with some broken down stuff and we couldn’t deal with it.

Foster has suffered a torrent of criticism this year after New Zealand lost their July series to Ireland and their opening Rugby Championship game in South Africa. It was only after the win in Johannesburg two weeks ago that he was confirmed in his role until next year’s World Cup.

The defending tournament champions have the chance to make amends immediately when they face the Pumas in Hamilton next week and Foster said there were positives to take from Saturday’s loss. “We have to look at the dominance we got in the first two thirds of the game, especially when it came to the lineout and the scrum,” he said. “But just a bit of discipline and a bit of frustration and that’s a key thing they play on.”

His Argentinian counterpart, Michael Cheika was visibly delighted with his historic victory. The former Wallabies manager was unapologetic for his enthusiastic celebrations, which put them top of the Rugby League after three rounds.

“For these Argentinian boys, it’s historic for them and I want them to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a first for me too, I’ve never won a test match in New Zealand. I am looking to grow the team, especially in view of the World Cup, and what is important for us now is to prepare for next week. Because they’re going to come back with every piece of artillery they have and we have to find a way to deal with that and give something back.

Cheika, who has now overseen four wins from six matches in his first season in charge of the Pumas, said he did not hold back in his pre-match and half-time team talks .

“These are guys who haven’t won a lot of Rugby League games and maybe don’t have a lot of confidence,” he said. « Il faut donc apporter[l’émotion[ainsiquelatechniquepourleurfairecroireeneux-mêmes”Noussavionsquenousdevionsapporterdel’intensiténoussavionsqu’ilsavaientunpeudepressionsureuxnousdevionsdoncessayerdetirerpartidecelapuisdepartirdelàetdevoiroùlejeuatterrit”CommeleurtoutepremièrevictoirecontrelesAllBlacksàSydneyilyadeuxanslorsqueCheikaétaitconsultantepourl’équipelavictoiredesamedis’estconstruitesurunincroyableeffortdéfensifCheikaarenduhommageàsonnouvelentraîneurdéfensifDaveKidwellpourcequ’ilavaitapportéàl’équipe[emotion[aswellasthetechnicaltomakethembelieveinthemselves“Weknewwehadtobringintensityweknewtheyhadabitofpressureonthemsowehadtotryandbuildonthatandthenjusttakeitfromthereandseewherethegamelands”LiketheirfirstevervictoryovertheAllBlacksinSydneytwoyearsagowhenCheikawasaconsultantwiththeteamSaturday’svictorywasbuiltonanincredibledefensiveeffortCheikapaidcredittohisnewdefensivecoachDaveKidwellforwhathehadbroughttotheteam[l’émotion[ainsiquelatechniquepourleurfairecroireeneux-mêmes”Noussavionsquenousdevionsapporterdel’intensiténoussavionsqu’ilsavaientunpeudepressionsureuxnousdevionsdoncessayerdetirerpartidecelapuisdepartirdelàetdevoiroùlejeuatterrit”CommeleurtoutepremièrevictoirecontrelesAllBlacksàSydneyilyadeuxanslorsqueCheikaétaitconsultantepourl’équipelavictoiredesamedis’estconstruitesurunincroyableeffortdéfensifCheikaarenduhommageàsonnouvelentraîneurdéfensifDaveKidwellpourcequ’ilavaitapportéàl’équipe[emotion[aswellasthetechnicaltomakethembelieveinthemselves“Weknewwehadtobringintensityweknewtheyhadabitofpressureonthemsowehadtotryandbuildonthatandthenjusttakeitfromthereandseewherethegamelands”LiketheirfirstevervictoryovertheAllBlacksinSydneytwoyearsagowhenCheikawasaconsultantwiththeteamSaturday’svictorywasbuiltonanincredibledefensiveeffortCheikapaidcredittohisnewdefensivecoachDaveKidwellforwhathehadbroughttotheteam

Kidwell was born in Christchurch and has a mural in the town honoring his days as a player and manager of the New Zealand rugby league team. “It was awesome, the guys built week after week and it’s just the result of the hard work they put in,” Kidwell said. “It’s about connecting in the line and moving together, making sure we place well. It’s quite simple.

The three-time world champions, who continued the game for the final nine minutes with 14 men after Shannon Frizell was shown a yellow card, will almost certainly be plunged back into the slump that seemed to end with their win over South Africa two weeks ago.

The home series loss to Ireland in July and defeat to the Springboks in their Rugby Championship opener put Foster in danger of losing his coaching job until the impressive victory at Ellis Park. “We certainly felt in the first half that we were much more dominant than the scoreboard showed,” said their captain, Sam Cane. “But you have to give them a lot of credit for how they stayed true, turned the tables and put a lot of pressure on us in the second half. We didn’t respond the way we wanted and they were good enough to get the win tonight.

Argentina surprise New Zealand with historic Rugby League win

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