Gamble pays off for Hansen as New Zealand get 'money in the bank'

By Sports Desk July 21, 2019

Steve Hansen said New Zealand's hard-fought Rugby Championship win over Argentina gives them "a little bit more money in the bank" having triumphed without so many key men.

Captain Kieran Read, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Codie Taylor were among the All Blacks to be rested for their opening game of the tournament on Saturday.

The understrength world champions had to dig deep to edge a 20-16 victory over the Pumas, secured courtesy of tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick, along with 10 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett.

Head coach Hansen was relieved that his selection gamble paid off ahead of a showdown with South Africa in Wellington next Saturday.

"If you look at the Crusaders not being here [in Buenos Aires] It's a minimum of probably 400 Test caps, but we knew that," Hansen said.

"That's why we talked earlier in the week about risk and reward."

Hansen added: "At times we were rusty, but we did a lot of good things.

"One of the greatest things we did was at the end with all the young fellows on we showed a lot of mental fortitude. So really pleased with that.

"To get away with the win is a little bit more money in the bank."

Related items

  • Blundell on standby to replace Nicholls for New Zealand after batsman takes Archer blow Blundell on standby to replace Nicholls for New Zealand after batsman takes Archer blow

    Tom Blundell is on standby to replace Henry Nicholls against England if the New Zealand batsman is ruled out of the remainder of the first Test.

    Nicholls was struck on the helmet by a bouncer from England paceman Jofra Archer in the penultimate over on day two at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.

    The 28-year-old was able to remain at the crease and was unbeaten on 26 at stumps, with the Black Caps 144-4 in reply to the tourists' 353 all out.

    Nicholls will undergo concussion tests and Blundell will replace him if he is unable to continue.

    New Zealand paceman Tim Southee said: "He's a pretty tough character so he'll rest up tonight, a couple of Panadol and be back out there.

    "He'll be assessed later on tonight and again in the morning, that's the protocol.

    "He's shaping up all right at the moment so fingers crossed he'll be right."

    Sam Curran took the big scalp of Kane Williamson for 51 after also removing Tom Latham.

    Ben Stokes earlier top-scored with 91 for England, with Southee taking 4-86 in an opening match of the series that is nicely poised.

  • Pitch provides promise despite England falling short, says Leach Pitch provides promise despite England falling short, says Leach

    Jack Leach admitted England came up short of their target with the bat against New Zealand but he was heartened by an apparently deteriorating pitch at Bay Oval.

    The left-armer was the not-out batsman as England were dismissed for 353, having at one stage been 277-4 in the first of two Tests.

    England made strong headway with the ball as the Black Caps were reduced to 144-4, with the key wicket of captain Kane Williamson for 51 providing a boost for the tourists late in the day.

    It was the nature of that dismissal, brought about by Sam Curran's viciously bouncing length delivery, that offered added encouragement to Leach.

    "The ball from Sam Curran to get Kane Williamson misbehaved and that's a good sign when you've got runs on the board," said Leach, who accounted for opener Jeet Raval.

    "We would have liked to have got more runs, we were aiming for at least 400.

    "We wanted that big score and we wanted a century in there and that's something we're working hard to do.

    "Hopefully that'll come in the second innings."

    Tim Southee, who posted figures of 4-88, conceded the loss of talisman Williamson with the close of the day's play in sight was a bitter pill to swallow, but he was pleased to have limited the damage England could do in their first innings.

    "It would have been nice to be three down but we've still got batting to come," he said.

    "I thought we bowled well [on Thursday] and we got our rewards for that now. We would have taken 6-112 at the start of the day."

  • Williamson wicket rocks New Zealand as England strike Williamson wicket rocks New Zealand as England strike

    England battled to a good position after the late scalp of Kane Williamson left New Zealand 144-4 at stumps on day two of the first Test on Friday.

    A Sam Curran delivery caught New Zealand captain Williamson (51) off guard in the final session in Mount Maunganui, where the Black Caps closed the day 209 runs adrift with six wickets in hand.

    After Tom Latham (8), Jeet Raval (19) and Ross Taylor (25) fell cheaply in response to England's 353, Williamson posted his 31st Test half-century before exiting to Curran (2-28).

    Henry Nicholls (26 not out) survived a scary blow to the helmet off the bowling of Jofra Archer as he and BJ Watling (6 not out) saw out the remaining overs.

    Earlier in the day, New Zealand produced an honest performance with the ball, having toiled on day one against England.

    An eventful morning session saw Tim Southee (4-88) produce a three-wicket burst to put England on the back foot – Ben Stokes (91) the first to go after the tourists resumed on 241-4.

    Stokes – who started the day on 67 – fell nine runs short of his third Test century in five matches when Taylor held on to a catch first slip.

    Southee struck three times in 11 balls as he also dismissed Ollie Pope (29) and Curran (0), with Archer (4) negotiating the hat-trick ball only to fall to Trent Boult (1-97) the following over.

    From the relative comfort of 277-4 to 295-8, England found themselves in trouble until Jos Buttler (43) and Jack Leach (18 not out) added some valuable runs to lead the visitors past 350 before Neil Wagner (3-90) wrapped things up following lunch.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.