Ben Smith Depleted New Zealand survive onslaught to defeat Argentina

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Ben Smith
Argentina scrum-half Tomas Cubelli clears the ball during a Rugby Championship match against New Zealand in Buenos Aires on July 20. (AFP pic)

BUENOS AIRES: Depleted New Zealand survived a second-half onslaught from Argentina to win a Rugby Championship first round match 20-16 in Buenos Aires Saturday.

After trailing by 11 points at half-time, the Pumas kept the All Blacks scoreless in the second half only to fail narrowly in their quest for a first victory over the world champions.

New Zealand chalked up a 450th Test win despite resting many of the Canterbury Crusaders stars who won a third consecutive Super Rugby title two weeks ago.

Clinical finishing helped the All Blacks to a 20-9 half-time advantage, but the Pumas scored early in the second half to leave just four points separating the teams.

Playmaker Nicolas Sanchez missed a kickable penalty soon after that would have reduced the gap to a single point before a large, passionat

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