McCaw praises All Blacks' chance-taking
AUCKLAND, 9 Oct. - New Zealand captain Richie McCaw believes the big difference between his side and Argentina in Sunday's quarter-final match was the All Blacks' ability to capitalise on their scoring opportunities.
With the All Blacks winning the try count just 2-1, scrum half Piri Weepu kept the scoreboard ticking, kicking seven out of seven penalties to guide his team to a 33-10 over the Pumas at Eden Park.
"I think it's what we expected," McCaw said. "We realise, come knockout time, it may take 80 minutes.
"Even though it came close a few times, we realised we had to stick to it and take chances and that's the way it turned out."
Graham Henry's side will now face Australia in a semi-final next Sunday after the Wallabies beat South Africa earlier on Sunday in Wellington.
The last-eight clash was played at a phenomenal pace from start to finish and was packed full of big hits and tough tackling as the Pumas showed some incredible defensive play.
Argentina notched the first try on 31 minutes when flanker Julio Farías Cabello touched down in the right corner, but the All Blacks hit back through second-half tries from Kieran Read and Brad Thorn.
New Zealand led 12-7 at half-time, but Pumas centre Marcelo Bosch scored the first points of the second half with a 46th-minute penalty after a Conrad Smith obstruction to cut the All Blacks' lead to 12-10.
However, the hosts restored their five-point advantage just three minutes later when Weepu slotted his fifth successive penalty.
Welsh referee Nigel Owens went to the video referee after 58 minutes as New Zealand came close to scoring a try, but Richie McCaw was held up when making a dive for the line at the base of the right post.
Owens then took play back for an earlier penalty, which Weepu converted for 18-10 to the All Blacks.
Pumas scrum half Nicolás Vergallo was given a yellow card before Owens again called for the video referee's input.
Number 8 Read collected a pass from flanker Jerome Kaino to touch down in the left corner after 66 minutes for a 23-10 lead, Weepu failing with his conversion attempt.
But a 72nd-minute penalty by Weepu took the All Blacks 16 points clear.
Thorn crossed the line in the 77th minute for the All Blacks' second try to finish off the Pumas' resistance. Aaron Cruden, a replacement for Colin Slade, hit the extras for 33-10.
Argentina had almost been handed a try in the seventh minute when Slade fumbled from a simple Weepu pass, allowing Bosch to kick on. The outside centre chased his kick, but his All Blacks counterpart Smith recovered the ball.
The first points were not long in coming, Weepu's 12th-minute penalty giving the All Blacks a 3-0 lead after Argentina prop Rodrigo Roncero was caught off side.
Dragged into touch
Slade came close to touching down for the first try of the clash in the left corner on 18 minutes, but his left leg was dragged into touch from Santiago Fernández's tackle.
The All Blacks won a penalty six minutes later when Roncero collapsed the front row, and Weepu made it 6-0 from wide on the right.
The Pumas touched down in the 31st minute in the right corner through flanker Cabello following a flowing backline move, Felipe Contepomi kicking the conversion to give Argentina a 7-6 lead.
In the 36th minute, Contepomi was penalised for a high tackle on Cruden and Weepu slotted the kick over for 9-7 to the All Blacks.
Weepu made it four penalties from four in the 39th minute to hand New Zealand a five-point advantage at the break.
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