New Zealand all but win Tri Nations title

New Zealand have ended their Tri Nations campaign with a 38-0 win over Argentina in Newcastle.
New Zealand have ended their Tri Nations campaign with a 38-0 win over Argentina in Newcastle.

The All Blacks have all but secured the Tri Nations title following a 38-0 bonus-point victory over Argentina in Newcastle.

New Zealand's five-try shut-out on Saturday night will leave the Wallabies and Pumas going through the motions in next week's final match of the tournament.

The All Blacks jumped five points clear on the competition table after two tries in three minutes from replacement Will Jordan midway through the second half secured victory at McDonald Jones Stadium.

To snatch the trophy, the Wallabies will have to beat the Pumas by 101 points in Sydney,

Alternatively, the Pumas must defeat the Wallabies by 93 points after conceding four second-half tries on Saturday night.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane said he got the response he was looking for from a team reeling after successive defeats, including a shock loss to the Pumas in Sydney two weeks ago.

"Extremely satisfying," he said.

"There's no hiding that we've had a tough three weeks. We felt the pain of the loss (to the Pumas).

"I'm proud of the way that we were able to stay patient and got there in the end."

The Pumas were their own worst enemy.

"We were not clinical. Too many errors when we got the ball," said Pumas captain Pablo Matera .

"Some silly mistakes in defence as well."

After losing to Argentina and Australia, the All Blacks entered the game on the back of two straight defeats for the first time since 2011.

A third consecutive slip-up would have placed coach Ian Foster under immense pressure to keep his job.

But Jordan's tries came after hooker Dane Coles crossed for the only five-pointer of the opening half to give the All Blacks a 10-0 lead at the break.

Ardie Savea and Patrick Tuipulotu put the icing on the cake for the All Blacks after the inspired and previously unbeaten Pumas were unable to win for the late Diego Maradona.

The All Blacks paid tribute to Maradona when Cane laid a New Zealand No.10 jersey on the field before the start of the game.

As the All Blacks lined up to perform the haka, Cane stepped out, walked toward midfield and laid down the jersey - with Maradona's name and number on it - as Argentine players stood arm-in-arm and watched.

Several Argentine players nodded in acknowledgement of the gesture.

Maradona died on Wednesday of a heart attack at age 60 in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a brain operation on November 3.

Australian Associated Press