Vaea Fifita saves All Blacks as they make hard work of beating Argentina in New Plymouth video

NZN VIDEO

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was satisfied with the team's performance in claiming a six tries to one win over Los Pumas.

Hoist by their own petard.

That appears to be how the All Blacks feel, as they struggle their way through the 2017 season.

Saturday night's 39-22 win over Argentina in New Plymouth was the latest occasion when the team appeared to fall well below the own high expectations.

PHIL WALTER/GETTY JOHN COWPLAND/PHOTOSPORT NIGEL MARPLE/REUTERS NIGEL MARPLE/REUTERS PHOTOSPORT ANDREW CORNAGA/PHOTOSPORT PHOTOSPORT HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY PHIL WALTER/GETTY PHIL WALTER/GETTY PHIL WALTER/GETTY HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES REUTERS ANDY JACKSON/STUFF ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Ardie Savea of the All Blacks tries to fend off a tackle.

New Zealand's Damian McKenzie scores.

Argentina fans before the match.

Argentina sing their national anthem before taking on the All Blacks.

Nehe Milner-Skudder scores a try.

Vaea Fifita on the charge.

Israel Dagg looks to pass.

Kieran Read before the All Blacks take on Argentina.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read leads the haka before the All Blacks take on Argentina at Yarrow Stadium.

Nehe Milner-Skudder scores.

Sonny Bill Williams makes an attack.

Damian McKenzie.

Nehe Milner-Skudder scores a try as Argentina's Santiago Cordero attempts to tackle.

TJ Perenara looks for a pass.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

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Listening to New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen afterwards, it sounds as if a nation of rugby fans aren't helping either.

READ MORE:
Recap: All Blacks v Los Pumas
The Fifita try that turned the ABs test
Vaea Fifita, the All Blacks' future
Player ratings: All Blacks
Gifford: ABs no longer a safe bet
Wallabies cough up lead to draw

 
Blindside flanker Vaea Fifita produced the beast-like runs All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had suggested he was capable of.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Blindside flanker Vaea Fifita produced the beast-like runs All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had suggested he was capable of.

Accuracy was the least you expected from the All Blacks at Yarrow Stadium. Instead they piled mistake upon mistake on a night when a new boy and a sub had to save everyone's blushes.

Blindside flanker Vaea Fifita justified the increasing hype around him, while reserve Lima Sopoaga put on a kicking display that might ignite debate about whether he needs to assume that duty from Beauden Barrett.

Hansen wasn't biting on the kicking topic, but concedes the general inaccuracy is moving beyond a nuisance.

Almost two years since his last test, wing Nehe Milner-Skudder slid over for the All Black's first try.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Almost two years since his last test, wing Nehe Milner-Skudder slid over for the All Black's first try.

"You don't want the errors to keep growing," Hansen said.

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"But at the same time we've come off a great year last year and we've come into this year and it's not flowing as easy for us and we're having to work at it and it's probably what we need. In terms of [opposition teams] putting a lot more pressure on us with linespeed and how we're dealing with that, at times, hasn't been that great.

"We're trying to play this brand of rugby that everyone wants us to play, but sometimes it's going to force errors and we've just got to be better at it."

Down 22-15, at one point in the second half, you have to give New Zealand credit for finding a way to win. But the display till that point continued a trend that began in the British and Irish Lions' series and has continued on into this Rugby Championship.

The accepted wisdom was that New Zealand's poor performance in the second half of the test against Australia in Sydney was a result of how well they'd played in the first 40. Only the All Blacks were just as disjointed and error-prone for the full 80 minutes, when the teams met in Dunedin a week later, and they've now backed that up with a poor 60 minutes against the Pumas.

At some point what appears to be an anomaly actually becomes a trend and Hansen and his staff need to ensure things change for the better against South Africa at Albany on Saturday.

All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown just dots down to score.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

All Blacks centre Anton Lienert-Brown just dots down to score.

That assignment won't be made easier by Joe Moody's absence. The loosehead prop dislocated his shoulder at Yarrow Stadium and faces season-ending surgery.

Wyatt Crockett will have to start now, with Kane Hames presumably summoned to sit on the bench.

Moody was among the All Blacks' better players on Saturday and will be a huge loss, with starting tighthead Owen Franks already done for the year too.

The resources are more plentiful in the back-three, where wings Nehe Milner-Skudder and Israel Dagg and fullback Damian McKenzie all scored against Argentina. Barrett even scooted over for a try, having been shifted to fullback.

But the night's best moments belonged to Fifita, whose size, power and pace make him a hugely formidable prospect.

"I don't think he's the finished product, he's got a long way to go before he does that," said Hansen.

"But it's a tank that's got plenty in it and our job now is to bring that out and his job is to work on his game and get better and better and better and reach his potential."

New Zealand 39 (Nehe MIlner-Skudder, Anton Lienert-Brown, Israel Dagg, Vaea Fifita, Damian McKenzie, Beauden Barrett tries; Lima Sopoaga 3 con, pen) Argentina 22 (Nicolas Sanchez tries; Sanchez con, 2 pen, dg, Emiliano Boffelli 2 pen). HT: 15-16.

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 - Stuff

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