Argentina were given a hard introduction to the culture of Tri--Nations rugby yesterday, when they lost to the world's No. 1 team and World Cup favorite New Zealand All Blacks. It never hurts, of course, that the tournament is being held in New Zealand.
Though Los Pumas, who are set to be added to the Tri--Nations tournament in 2012, trailed in the final score, 33-10, they remained steadfast in their dogged gameplan, and forced New Zealand to fight for it.
It was Argentina's Julio Farias Cabello who scored the first try of the game at around the 31 minute mark.
New Zealand's first try did not come until the 67 minute mark, when number 8 Kieran Reed was able to control a no-look pass from blindside-flanker Jerome Kaino and down the ball for five.
Before that, The All Blacks had multiple tries called back due to Argentina's fast-reacting defense along the try line, which completely jammed New Zealand or forced the All Blacks into touch.
The difference in this match, as in earlier World Cup matches, was penalty kicks.
New Zealand's half back Piri Weepu connected on seven out of seven penalty kicks, giving The All Blacks the advantage they needed to walk away with the victory.
In most penalty situations, Argentina seemed to be reacting to New Zealand's aggressiveness.
The All Blacks tried and succeeded at playing the role of aggressor in this match, and it accounted for 21 points on the final score.
For a nation that hasn't won a World Cup since 1987, and has not managed to make an appearance in the final since 1995, the All Blacks appear to be coming to believe the considerable hype surrounding them.
It could serve them well in their semifinal match against proximate rivals Australia, but then, it may not.
It might be in the All Blacks' best interest to remember this past summer's Tri--Nations tournament, won by Australia, who earned the distinction of "best side in the southern hemisphere".
The Wallabies have had the All Blacks' number as of late, and there is a lot of rugby still to be played in this tournament.
But New Zealand hasn't won anything yet.
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