All Blacks deny Pumas first win with tight 20-16 victory
BUENOS AIRES, July 20 (Reuters) - New Zealand held on by the skin of their teeth for a 20-16 victory over Argentina in a tense Rugby Championship clash at Velez Sarsfield on Saturday.
An All Blacks side lacking several top players led 20-9 at halftime but failed to score in the second half and were indebted to their defence for denying the Pumas a first-ever victory over New Zealand in 29 tests.
Fullback Emiliano Boffelli scored Argentina's only try two minutes into the second half from a fine kick ahead by flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, then the Pumas dominated possession and territory but failed to score again, having another try ruled out by the TMO.
Argentina made a good start, taking a six-point lead with penalties from Sanchez and Boffelli in the opening six minutes and might have added a try but for some good defending by title holders New Zealand.
The All Blacks then got a grip on the match and forced the Pumas into mistakes that resulted in penalties which they converted into points with a try by centre Ngani Laumape after 18 minutes.
Another Sanchez penalty restored Argentina's lead but two penalties from Beauden Barrett had New Zealand back in front.
Lock Brodie Retallick then scored another try just before the interval when he intercepted a Sanchez pass. (Reporting by Rex Gowar Editing by Toby Davis)