Nelson: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen’s gamble to give some of his less-experienced players a chance to test themselves paid off when his side overcame a combative Argentina to win their Rugby Championship clash 46-24 on Saturday. In the other championship match of the day, the Wallabies squeezed past South Africa 23-18 at Lang Park in Brisbane.
Hansen had made seven changes to the side that thrashed the Wallabies 40-12 two weeks ago and gave flyhalf Richie Mo’unga, loose forward Shannon Frizell and prop Karl Tu’inukuafe their first starts as he looked ahead to next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Centre Jack Goodhue was playing just his fourth Test.
Both Frizell and Tu’inukuafe seized their opportunities with both hands, with the blindside flanker rampaging through the midfield off short passes from his fellow forwards, playing a full 80 minutes and finishing with a late try.
“I thought he played really well,” Hansen said of the 24-year-old. “He got to a point there where he could have gone either way but he got his second wind there and put himself forward just when we needed him to step up to the plate.” Tu’inukuafe, who was a late call-up to the squad for the June series against France due to injury, overpowered Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, who was heavily penalised by referee Pascal Gauzerre, which gave the All Blacks momentum.
The 23-year-old Goodhue, who made his debut in the third test against France, also looked like he had been playing test rugby for years rather than weeks and is fast looming as the team’s first-choice centre.
The All Blacks had to deal with two early injuries with lock Brodie Retallick (arm) and midfield back Ngani Laumape (knee) being replaced within seconds of each other in the 10th minute.
Australia overturned a narrow halftime deficit to grind out their first victory of the championship. Two Matt Toomua penalties after the break added to the centre’s first-half try and one from his captain Michael Hooper to give the Wallabies their first win in five matches after back-to-back losses to Ireland and New Zealand.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi and winger Makazole Mapimpi had helped to give South Africa an 18-17 lead at the break but they were held scoreless in the second half to slump to a second successive defeat after a loss to Argentina last time out.
The Springboks pressed hard for what would have been a match-winning try over the final few minutes but the home side held them off with a huge defensive effort.