All Blacks survive scare to beat Pumas, Samoa and Wales also win

Sun Sep 20, 2015 3:25pm EDT
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - The biggest crowd to ever watch a Rugby World Cup match were treated to a classic on Sunday as Argentina pushed New Zealand all the way before the holders' class eventually earned them a 26-16 win in front of almost 90,000 fans at Wembley.

A day after Japan has stunned South Africa, another huge upset looked a possibility as Argentina, who had never beaten the All Blacks, led the team who have never lost a World Cup pool game, until the 56th minute only for the favorites’ mounting pressure to pay off with two tries.

Earlier Samoa ensured there would not be another shock in Brighton, the scene of Japan’s heroics, as they beat the United States 25-16, while Wales demolished Uruguay 54-9 in Cardiff but suffered yet more injuries in the process.

It initially looked to be plain sailing for New Zealand as three Dan Carter penalties had them 9-0 up but Argentine showed a real appetite for the battle and turned things round to lead 13-12 at halftime after a Guido Petti try. The All Blacks looked rattled and lost captain Richie McCaw and Conrad Smith to the sin-bin.

Another penalty stretched the lead but it was mostly one-way traffic in the second half and the Puma defense was finally breached by Aaron Smith and replacement forward Sam Cane.

"I guess that's what you expect first up," said McCaw. "I thought that second half was a lot more clinical.

"We'll have to make a few improvements but that's the nature of rugby."

The 89,019 attendance eclipsed the previous best of 82,957 who watched England beat Australia in the 2003 final in Sydney’s Olympic Stadium.   Continued...

Rugby Union - New Zealand v Argentina - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C - Wembley Stadium, London, England - 20/9/15
New Zealand's Aaron Smith in action
Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs