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Tough Pumas match 'ideal' for All Blacks

AAP logoAAP 10/09/2016

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says his side will take a great deal from overcoming a gritty Pumas performance to win their Rugby Championship clash 57-22 in Hamilton.

The world champions were put under the pump early at the Waikato Stadium, conceding a Santiago Cordero try in the first two minutes and looking shaky in the face of Argentina's passing game.

But a host of second-half changes, combined with superior physical fitness, allowed the All Blacks to run in five unanswered tries in the final 35 minutes to claim victory.

Hansen was glad his side could take on such an intense outfit on home soil after two straight-forward wins over the Wallabies.

They were far more effective in the final half-hour in both defence and attack, running the ball with purpose and using set-pieces more intelligently.

"For a young group to get a game like this on our own patch and to have our own crowd behind them was ideal," Hansen said.

"Maybe if we'd been somewhere else, and in front of 80,000 people who didn't like you much, there would've been a wee bit more pressure."

Hansen was highly complimentary of a Pumas outfit who went toe-to-toe with the All Blacks and trailed at halftime by only five points.

But they ran out of gas as the match wore on.

"They took the game to us; they were clever in how tactically they wanted to play; they had a real clear plan and executed it well," Hansen said.

"But it takes a lot of energy to do what they were doing."

A second-half double to Ryan Crotty, as well as five-pointers to Charlie Faumuina, Ben Smith and Luke Romano, broke the Pumas' resistance.

Skipper Kieran Read said the second-half resurgence was built on the back of multiple substitutions from Hansen, including the injection of halfback TJ Perenara.

They had given the side a second wind with assured performances, according to the captain.

"They didn't do anything special - it was just them doing their role really well," Read said.

"They sorted out our defence by actually going forward and knocking them over behind the gain line."

In upsetting news for Hansen, flanker Sam Cane hobbled off early in the second half with a hamstring injury.

He'll miss at least the next month.

"We'll have a better idea tomorrow morning - he's in a lot of pain," Hansen said.

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