New Zealand kept alive their hopes of achieving another Rugby Championship series triumph on Saturday with a 28-13 win over Argentina.
Even in the soggy Hamilton conditions, Steve Hansen’s men were as clinical as one can expect.
The scorer of New Zealand’s first two tries, Aaron Smith continued his incredible run of form in the Rugby Championship with another fine performance at the Waikato Stadium.
The All Blacks’ half-back has been among some of the most consistent performers for Hansen’s side in recent weeks and did himself justice again in the third round of fixtures.
Both of Smith’s scores were as a result of great anticipation, getting on the shoulder of his fellow attackers and having the foresight to know where to be and when to be there.
The scrum-half’s handling was essential in his side’s run to victory in the wet weather, providing a consistent link between the forwards and the backs.
Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe
Despite the fact that his side ran out as losers, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe can once again hold his head high after a fine individual showing.
In a familiar tale, Lobbe stood out as one of the Pumas’ most impressive players and the captain led from the front, not dissimilar to the way Sergio Parisse often does for Italy.
Alan Dymock pointed out just how essential the back-rower is to Santiago Phelan’s cause:
Like Richie McCaw, Lobbe played it a bit close in terms of discipline but was doing everything he could at the breakdown as well as carrying the ball.
Despite being a 6’4” unit weighing almost 18 stone, Kieran Read showed that even the biggest of players can move swiftly when required, pitching in with an extremely effective Hamilton display.
The highlight of the No. 8’s evening was undoubtedly the around-the-back offload to Aaron Smith for the first try of the night, but Read’s contributions ran far deeper.
Quick to get to the breakdown and piling the pressure on the Argentine defence—even getting in a chargedown to help his side to an early second-half try—Read was omnipresent in Waikato.