BUENOS AIRES. — New Zealand won the Rugby Championship for the sixth time with a 35-17 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Victory gave the All Blacks an unsurpassable seven-point lead over South Africa with one game to play.
A shock 36-34 win in Wellington this month had given South Africa hope that they could overtake New Zealand and win the competition for the first time.
But they failed to secure a bonus point in a 23-12 win over Australia in Port Elizabeth earlier on Saturday.
That result left the All Blacks needing a win to secure the title, and they outscored Argentina by five tries to two to collect a bonus point as well.
The world champions were missing several regulars in Buenos Aires, particularly in the pack, but it made little difference as they recovered from a shaky first five minutes to dominate a team who have still to record a win against them in 28 games.
“I don’t know if we’re the finished product yet. They are a young team that were out there for large parts of tonight so it was pretty pleasing,” said New Zealand coach Steve Hansen.
New Zealand went behind to a Nicolas Sanchez penalty after just five minutes but Rieko Ioane put the visitors ahead two minutes later.
Waisake Naholo went over on 16 minutes, Ioane scored the All Blacks’ third – his 20th in 19 games – 11 minutes before half-time and Beauden Barrett put away all three conversions as Argentina’s handling errors contributed to a 21-3 deficit at the break.
Sonny Bill Williams was given a yellow card four minutes before half-time but the home side could not take advantage.