Rugby Championship: New Zealand win inaugural title

New Zealand celebrate their Rugby Championship win
The All Blacks celebrate ther Rugby Championship win in Argentina

New Zealand ran in seven tries to defeat Argentina 54-15 and win the inaugural Rugby Championship.

Martin Landajo's try put the Pumas into an early lead but Cory Jane ran in a hat-trick of tries for the All Blacks.

Winger Julian Savea added a brace of tries while Aaron Smith and Ma'a Nonu also scored as the visitors wrapped up the title with a game to spare.

New Zealand play their final match next weekend against South Africa, who beat Australia 31-8 earlier on Saturday.

The victory means the All Blacks have now extended their winning streak since last year's World Cup to 15 matches.

"We've got the tag of being world champions and we needed to play like them," said Richie McCaw.

"To secure the Rugby Championship was obviously the big goal and it's nice to be able to do that, but to put out that performance is something the guys are pretty happy about."

Argentina scored the first try in an exciting, open match when scrum-half Landajo picked up Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino's pass to dart between two players and touch down.

But Aaron Smith and Jane soon hit back with a try for New Zealand, with Dan Carter converting to pull the world champions ahead.

When Gonzalo Camacho dropped the ball, Savea pounced, kicking it ahead before touching down. He added a second soon aftewards to give New Zealand a 32-8 lead at half-time.

There was better luck for Camacho after the break as he scurried over Argentina's second try but New Zealand asserted their dominance, with tries from Jane and Nonu sealing the win.

"It was one our best performances of the season," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen. "The manner we did it was very satisfying.

"To be able to attack like that, you have to have a platform and the forwards played very well."

In Pretoria, South Africa scored two quick-fire tries through full-back Zane Kirchner and Bryan Habana to take a 11-point lead over Australia into the break.

The breakthrough at the Loftus Versfeld, where Australia have not won now in six visits, came in the 22nd minute as full-back Kirchner finished off a long-period of possession in the opposition 22m.

Similar dominance from the host's forward pack saw Habana storm home from close-range soon after.

Australia were struggling to gain any foothold in the game and things got worse when Adam Ashley-Cooper was knocked unconscious in a collision with Kirchner.

Mike Harris scored in the right corner midway through the first half after clever work from Australia's new No. 10 Kurtley Beale, but his score was merely a consolation as Habana soon added a second.

The Wallabies fell further behind at the start of the second half as the Springboks standout flanker Francois Louw pirouetted over the line following a driving maul.

Australia finished the game with 14 players when hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was forced off with a shoulder problem after they had made all their substitutions.

Habana then ruthlessly took advantage of his team's numerical advantage to claim his third try by bursting clear on the right wing.

Victory for South Africa lifted them into second place on 12 points behind champions New Zealand.

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