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."

New Zealand found it "bloody tough" to get the job done against Argentina, number eight Ardie Savea admitted.

The All Blacks came out on top 20-16 in Buenos Aires as they began their Rugby Championship campaign on a winning note.

But after first-half tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick, and 10 points from the boot of Beauden Barrett, New Zealand were kept scoreless in the second half.

They were clinging on at the end, and Savea agreed when asked if it felt like a "war" against the Pumas.

Savea told SKY Sport NZ: "It was, mate. It was bloody tough out there.

"The Argentinian players came out firing and just kept coming at us the full 80 minutes. I’m just proud of the boys for sticking in there.

"We just talked about the next moment and dominating the next moment, so when we made mistakes we'd just connect and talk about the the next moment and how we could dominate that, and hopefully gain momentum."

New Zealand will regroup for next weekend's home game against South Africa, and look to work out how Argentina caused them so many difficulties.

"They bought a bit of line speed on our attack and they put our skills under pressure," Savea said.

"And at times their pressure worked. We'll learn from that hopefully."

New Zealand fended off an impressive Argentina side 20-16 in Buenos Aires to secure a winning start to their Rugby Championship campaign.

After South Africa's earlier resounding victory over Australia, this was a match of a different nature and the All Blacks were clinging on at the end for their success on Saturday.

First-half tries from Ngani Laumape and Brodie Retallick looked to have put the visitors in control, but New Zealand went scoreless in the second 40 minutes.

Emiliano Boffelli pulled a try back and, come the closing stages, Argentina were camped close to the New Zealand line.

However, they could not find the second try they required to earn what would have been Argentina's first victory over world champions the All Blacks in 33 attempts.

This clash followed the Jaguares' stunning run to the Super Rugby final, where they fell to New Zealand outfit the Crusaders.

Argentina's starting line-up includes 13 Jaguares players and head coach Mario Ledesma hoped they could deliver a major upset.

A pair of early penalties, the first from Nicolas Sanchez and the second a long-range kick from Boffelli, gave Argentina a 6-0 lead inside six minutes.

Argentina were behind, though, after Laumape breached their defences in the 17th minute and Beauden Barrett booted the conversion.

Sanchez and Barrett traded penalties in quick succession before the latter added his second three-pointer, and Retallick seized on a loose pass to run clear for a crucial try prior to half-time.

Barrett added the two points again, but surprisingly New Zealand would make no further contribution to the scoresheet – the All Blacks failing to score in the second half of A test for the first time since 2011.

New Zealand still achieved a 450th international win but not without a scare.

A fine kick from Sanchez created the chance for Boffelli to dot down in the 47th minute. Sanchez added the conversion and Argentina, largely camped in New Zealand's half, were within a try with over half an hour left on the clock.

Sanchez missed a penalty that could have made it closer still as the Pumas pushed hard to break down New Zealand, being defied at the death when they forced two lineouts close to the try line but could get over from neither.

England's dramatic Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand does not feel like a fair result, according to Eoin Morgan.

The showpiece at Lord's went down to a super over, after Ben Stokes had inadvertently deflected Martin Guptill's throw out for a boundary to keep England's chances of victory alive.

Stokes and Jos Buttler then amassed 15 runs in the additional over, a total which was matched by New Zealand, but an incredible contest was settled in England's favour courtesy of Morgan's side hitting more boundaries throughout their innings.

And Morgan conceded he has still not quite been able to make sense of the triumph, and is slightly troubled by winning in such a manner.

"I don't think it's fair to have a result like that when there's very little between the sides," Morgan told the Times.

"I don't think there was one moment that you could say, 'That actually cost the game there'. It was quite balanced.

"I'm black and white. I'm normally going, 'I know. I was there, that happened'. [But] I can't stick my finger on where the game was won and lost.

"I'm not sure winning it makes it any easier. A little bit [troubled], because there's no defining moment that you'd say: 'Yes, we thoroughly deserved it.' It's just been crazy."

Morgan added he has been in contact with his Black Caps counterpart Kane Williamson, who shares his disbelief at how the final panned out.

"I spoke to Kane [Williamson] over the last couple of days on numerous occasions and none of us has come up with a rational explanation as to the various times we gave them the game and they gave it back to us," Morgan added.

"Like me, he can't get his head around everything."

Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, meanwhile, has no doubt the Black Caps - also runners up in the 2015 World Cup - will bounce back from the result, despite being "broken" at the moment.

"That's the thing and it's going to be so difficult for those guys," McCullum told stuff.co.nz. "I was lucky enough to have a beer with them in the changing room and they were pretty broken, that's for sure.

"They were also really proud of what they did and how well they played. Over the coming months and years, whilst it's still raw now, they'll understand just how magnificent that spectacle was.

"And for it to happen on the biggest of stages, to have played the hand that they played in that match is absolutely amazing."

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been nominated for the New Zealander of the Year award, less than a week after dashing the Black Caps' Cricket World Cup dreams.

Stokes was instrumental in England's thrilling triumph at Lord's on Sunday, scoring an unbeaten 84 to force a Super Over and then making eight off three balls in the additional six deliveries as Eoin Morgan's side won an all-time classic on boundary count.

In an incident-packed innings, Stokes was caught by Trent Boult in the deep during the penultimate over only for the fielder to step on the rope with the ball in hand, and in the final over England's number five dived and accidentally diverted Martin Guptill's throw to the boundary with his bat, resulting in another crucial six runs.

However, despite playing a pivotal role in beating the Black Caps, Stokes, who was born in Christchurch and moved to England at the age of 12, has still received votes for the New Zealander of the Year award.

"We also received nominations for England's hero Ben Stokes," chief judge Cameron Bennett said in quotes published on the New Zealand Herald's website.

"He might not have been playing for the Black Caps but, having been born in Christchurch, where his parents now live, and with Maori ancestry, there's clearly a few Kiwis about who think we can still claim him."

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson - voted player of the tournament at the World Cup - is also up for the award, along with Abdul Aziz, who chased away a gunman after 51 people were killed in a terror attack on two Christchurch mosques.

The Rugby Championship begins this weekend, with the four nations keen to find form ahead of the upcoming Rugby World Cup in Japan.

New Zealand have won the tournament in each of the past three years and the All Blacks are favourites to once again finish above Australia, Argentina and South Africa.

We run the rule over the quartet ahead of the start of the Rugby Championship, where teams will only face each other once in a World Cup year.

NEW ZEALAND

The All Blacks are chasing more than just a fourth successive title and third consecutive World Cup in the coming months, with a slice of history also on the line. No team has ever won the Rugby Championship - or the Tri-Nations, as it was previously known - and also lifted that year's World Cup.

New Zealand were beaten by South Africa in Wellington during last year's Rugby Championship - the first time in nine years the Springboks had won an away game against the All Blacks - while a 16-9 defeat to Ireland in November will have given the rest of the rugby world further encouragement.

Sonny Bill Williams, who will not feature against Argentina on Saturday, has had an injury-hit Super Rugby season and Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock will be rested for the Pumas clash. However, this is a star-studded team regardless - one that contains 2016 and 2017 World Rugby Player of the Year Beauden Barrett - and they remain the gold standard.

SOUTH AFRICA

The Springboks were runners-up last year and might have finished top of the pile had they not thrown away a 30-13 lead against New Zealand in Pretoria after beating them in their own backyard. They ended the year with seven wins from 14 games so consistency will be the key.

A home Test series success over England was a sign South Africa could be a team to fear under Rassie Erasmus, whose decision to relax the rules on selecting European-based players has paid dividends.

Fly-half Handre Pollard was brilliant during the Super Rugby season, finishing as the league's leading point scorer, though he will be rested against the Wallabies in the opener and Aphiwe Dyantyi is sidelined by a hamstring problem.

AUSTRALIA

The Wallabies endured a horrendous 2018, losing nine of their 13 Tests. They suffered three heavy defeats to the All Blacks and were beaten by both Argentina and South Africa.

Australia slipped to their lowest-ever ranking of seventh following their first loss to the Pumas on home soil since 1983 and then lost two of their three November internationals, against Wales and England. They have not played a game in 2019 but former star full-back Israel Folau has already been making headlines, having been sacked by Rugby Australia following a controversial social-media post in which he wrote "hell awaits…drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters".

Coach Michael Cheika, who has left Quade Cooper out of his squad, made clear he will walk away if Australia do not lift the World Cup in Japan, so this competition should give an indication to his long-term future. Cancer survivor Christian Lealiifano could make his first appearance in three years at this tournament, though he will miss the South Africa clash with a shoulder problem.

ARGENTINA

The Pumas' 2018 did not start well - two home defeats to Wales preceding a 44-15 thrashing at the hands of Scotland in Resistencia - and coach Daniel Hourcade vacated his post, replaced by Mario Ledesma.

Having never won more than once in a single Rugby Championship campaign before, Argentina claimed two victories in 2018 by overcoming South Africa 32-19 in Mendoza and then beating the Wallabies on Australian soil, but they were winless in November Tests against Ireland, France and Scotland.

The Jaguares, who provide the bulk of this Argentina squad, reached their first ever Super Rugby final this year, only to be beaten by the Crusaders, but translating that club success on the international stage is an altogether different challenge.

New Zealand will be expected to continue their dominance of Argentina and the Rugby Championship when the tournament gets under way on Saturday.

The All Blacks have won the trophy in each of the last three years and are favourites to retain it with the Rugby World Cup fast approaching.

Argentina have never beaten the world champions in 32 attempts and will have to produce something special to make history in Buenos Aires this weekend.

South Africa host Australia at Emirates Airline Park, and the Springboks have won nine of their previous 10 encounters with the Wallabies at the Johannesburg venue.

Take a look at the Opta numbers ahead of Saturday's opening round of matches.

 

South Africa v Australia

- South Africa have lost only one of their last five Tests against Australia, although two of those meetings ended as draws.

- The Springboks have won 13 of their last 16 games played at Emirates Airline Park, including their last three on the bounce, scoring an average of 36 points per match.

- Australia will be looking to secure back-to-back Rugby Championship wins for the first time since 2016 after ending their 2018 campaign with a 45-34 success over Argentina.

- The Wallabies' win rate of 24 per cent when playing in South Africa is their lowest in any nation. Indeed, it is the lowest win rate of any of the six nations to have played more than 20 Tests there.

- Australia back Dane Haylett-Petty gained 397 metres in the 2018 Rugby Championship, the most of any player and 130 more than South Africa's best, Siya Kolisi (267).

 

Argentina v New Zealand

- Argentina’s only positive result against New Zealand came in a 21-21 draw in November 1985. Since that match in Buenos Aires they have lost all 10 home games against the All Blacks.

- New Zealand are on the cusp of their 450th win – 43 more than any other team – and require just 26 points this weekend to become the first nation to score 16,000 international points.

- The All Blacks have won 15 of their last 17 games, including a 66-3 victory against Italy in Rome in their most recent fixture.

- Argentina full-back Nicolas Sanchez scored the most points (67) of any player in the competition last year. He scored four tries, 16 of 17 conversions, four of seven penalty attempts and a drop goal.

- Argentina have lost their last four games played at Velez Sarsfield, including defeats to New Zealand in their last two games at the venue.

Mario Ledesma hopes Argentina can use the nation's excitement to their advantage in their Rugby Championship opener against New Zealand.

Argentina will host the All Blacks in Buenos Aires on Saturday, in the first of three games of a tournament shortened due to the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

The clash comes on the back of the Jaguares' stunning run to the Super Rugby final, where they fell to the Crusaders.

Argentina's starting line-up for their Rugby Championship opener includes 13 Jaguares and Ledesma hopes his team can deliver.

"We have to play with the enthusiasm of the people," he told a news conference.

"That people are excited is great and we have to take the positive side, but we have to be on and [focus on] how we improve from here to Saturday."

The All Blacks are unbeaten in 32 previous meetings with Argentina, winning 31 and drawing one.

Argentina: Emiliano Boffelli, Matias Moroni, Matias Orlando, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano, Nicolas Sanchez, Tomas Cubelli; Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy, Juan Figallo, Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini, Pablo Matera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio.
Replacements: Julian Montoya, Mayco Vivas, Santiago Medrano, Matias Alemanno, Tomas Lezana, Felipe Ezcurra, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Joaquin Tuculet.

Just two months before the Rugby World Cup starts in Japan, this year's Rugby Championship will give opportunities for players desperate to board the plane to Japan.

While Beauden Barrett, Michael Hooper, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Nicolas Sanchez are nailed on to feature on the biggest stage for their respective nations, fitness permitting of course, there are some who are playing for a place in the squad.

New Zealand prepare to start the defence of their title against Argentina in Buenos Aires on Saturday, while South Africa and Australia do battle at Ellis Park on the same day.

Here we have picked out those who will be determined to grasp their opportunities in a shortened tournament in 2019.

 

SEVU REECE, NEW ZEALAND

Reece was one of four uncapped players named in the All Blacks squad for the opening two rounds.

The 22-year-old wing was the leading try scorer in Super Rugby, lighting up the competition as the Crusaders retained their title.

Fiji-born flyer Reece has the pace, power and skill to deliver on the international stage and an impressive Rugby Championship can book him a ticket to the World Cup.

Reece was supposed to join Connacht and looked set to play for Fiji, but after being granted a discharge without conviction over a domestic assault last year, he has experienced a rapid rise.

 

HARRY JOHNSON-HOLMES, AUSTRALIA

Johnson-Holmes was flown over to Johannesburg to link up with an injury-hit Australia squad for their encounter with the Springboks.

The 22-year-old Waratahs prop is poised to come off the bench for what is sure to be a fierce battle this weekend.

With Tom Robertson (ankle) and Scott Sio (adductor) missing out, Johnson-Holmes has been summoned from the fringes.

James Slipper got the nod to start in what will be his first international appearance since 2016 and he will be eager to make up for lost time, but Johnson-Holmes is vying for a World Cup call.

 

HERSCHEL JANTJIES, SOUTH AFRICA

Herschel Jantjies and Rynhardt Elstadt will make their South Africa bows against Michael Cheika's men.

Elton Jantjies and namesake Herschel will form a half-back pairing for the first time on the Test stage.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says scrum-half Herschel has the potential for greatness and he will get the opportunity to live up to the hype.

While Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach are ahead of the 23-year-old in the pecking order, but there is still time to show he merits a spot after an excellent Super Rugby season for the Stormers.

 

LUCAS MENSA, ARGENTINA 

Livewire Lucas Mensa is a potential bolter for the Pumas' World Cup party.

The centre was called up to Argentina's first Rugby Championship squad by Mario Ledesma, who will be aiming to build on an outstanding, historic Super Rugby campaign by the Jaguares.

Mensa is a bundle of energy and is capable of hitting the ground running at international level.

Yet to make his debut, the 23-year-old has impressed Ledesma while playing for Argentina XV in the Americas Rugby Championship.

Sevu Reece will make his New Zealand debut in the Rugby Championship clash against Argentina, while four further uncapped players have been named among the replacements by Steve Hansen.

Reece was a controversial selection in the All Blacks' squad after he received a discharge without conviction for domestic assault last year.

Irish province Connacht pulled out of a move for Reece in the wake of his court appearance, but the wing was then signed by the Crusaders as injury cover and went on to excel as Super Rugby's top try-scorer in 2019.

Reece is now set to start on the right wing in Buenos Aires on Saturday, with Jordie Barrett on the opposite flank.

Head coach Hansen was quoted by stuff.co.nz as saying: "As the season has gone on, he [Reece] has just got better and better as a player. And as a person. We got interested enough to say, 'Hey, we need to keep looking at this guy'.

"And then it got past that point and we said, 'Look, we are going to need to pick him'.

"Now we want to find out if he can take that next step. This game is the logical game to play him in."

Sam Cane had already been confirmed as New Zealand's stand-in skipper and Ardie Savea will start at number eight in the absence of Kieran Read, one of several Crusaders players rested for the Argentina fixture.

Atu Moli, Luke Jacobson, Josh Ioane and Braydon Ennor could join Reece in earning their first caps after being named on the bench.

New Zealand team to face Argentina: Ben Smith, Sevu Reece, Anton Lienert-Brown, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Ofa Tuungafasi, Dane Coles, Angus Ta'avao, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaea Fifita, Sam Cane (captain), Ardie Savea.

Replacements: Liam Coltman, Atu Moli, Nepo Laulala, Jackson Hemopo, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Josh Ioane, Braydon Ennor.

Black Caps star Trent Boult said "sorry for letting everyone down" following New Zealand's heartbreaking loss to England in the Cricket World Cup final.

New Zealand were agonisingly denied by England in a dramatic decider at Lord's on Sunday – the World Cup hosts prevailing due to their superior boundary count after a Super Over.

Both New Zealand and England made 241 from 50 overs and 15 in the subsequent Super Over shoot-out as the latter prevailed by the smallest of margins for their maiden World Cup title.

After arriving back in New Zealand on Thursday, paceman Boult told reporters: "It's been a long flight home but it [the defeat] probably hasn't sunk in yet.

"I wish it would, so we can all get over it but it's one of those things that we probably won't get over for a long time."

Boult added: "We've just been on a plane 15 hours and there were a lot of Kiwis saying 'we felt for you'. I didn't really know what to say.

"Obviously, we're all hurting and we're sorry for letting everyone down. I just want to get home, walk my dog along the beach and try to forget about it but it's gonna be a hard one to swallow for the next couple of years."

A Super Over was required at Lord's after an extraordinary moment of luck helped England during the closing stages of their run chase.

Ben Stokes inadvertently deflected the ball to the boundary rope, meaning England were sensationally awarded six runs as he raced back to complete a second run with nine needed from three balls

"It's natural to nitpick, to wonder about all those little things and how it could have been a totally different game," Boult said.

"I've been living that last over in my mind a lot – somehow I got hit for six along the ground which has never happened before. To see the scores level [after the Super Over] and still lose, yeah, that was a pretty unique situation."

Boult was involved in a heartbreaking moment of his own after taking a catch off England all-rounder Stokes, only to step on the boundary rope and concede six runs.

"The priority in that situation is on the ball itself, so that was all I was worried about. It was silly of me not to know where the rope was. It was similar to the catch against the West Indies earlier in the tournament but they're quite quirky boundaries over there [at Lord's]. They're not circles, they're kind of octagons and squares and all sorts of things.

"You can imagine the feeling when my left shoe hit the cushion and it was too late to throw the ball to Marty [Guptill]. There were probably 27,000 intoxicated Poms in there screaming as the ball went up, so I couldn't hear anything Marty was saying."

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead expects the ICC to review the rules that led to the Black Caps losing the Cricket World Cup final to England courtesy of an inferior boundary count.

In an extraordinary final at Lord's on Sunday, England ultimately prevailed after both teams had made 241 runs from 50 overs and 15 in the subsequent Super Over shootout.

Many observers felt another one-over eliminator would have represented a fairer way to decide the winners, rather than the champions being determined by the number of boundaries hit during the contest.

"I'm sure there's going to be many things they [the ICC] will look at over the whole tournament," Stead was quoted as saying by stuff.co.nz. "I'm sure when they're writing the rules they never expect the World Cup final to happen like that so I'm sure it'll be reviewed, absolutely."

"The technicalities and stuff around the rules, they're different in all tournaments. We knew what it was, we were just one run short. It's a very, very hollow feeling that you can play 100 overs and score the same amount of runs and still lose the game. But that's the technicalities of sport sometimes."

The Super Over was only required after England benefited from an extraordinary slice of good fortune towards the end of their initial run-chase.

As he raced back to complete a second run with nine needed from three balls, Ben Stokes inadvertently deflected the ball to the boundary rope, ensuring England were awarded six runs.

Former umpire Simon Taufel claimed England should actually have been given five runs rather than six, as Stokes and Adil Rashid had not crossed at the point Martin Guptill threw the ball in.

"I didn't actually know that," said Stead. "At the end of the day the umpires are there to rule and they're human as well and like players sometimes errors are made.

"That's just the human aspect of sport and probably why we care so much as well."

Trevor Bayliss expects Eoin Morgan to want to lead England into next year's T20 World Cup amid discussion over whether he will remain as captain following their dramatic 50-over World Cup triumph at Lord's on Sunday.

England lifted the trophy for the first time as they claimed an incredible win over New Zealand, prevailing on number of boundaries after the scores finished tied following each side's 50 overs and then a Super Over.

The successful end to England's four-year journey to world supremacy on the ODI stage, the vision for which was laid out by Morgan after their humiliating 2015 campaign, has led to talk of the Irish-born batsman possibly stepping down as skipper.

However, Bayliss, for whom the victory marked his final white-ball game in charge, believes Morgan will want to stay on and try to guide England to another world title in Australia.

As England continued their celebrations at The Oval on Monday, Bayliss said: "There is a T20 World Cup coming up in 12 months which I am sure he will be more than up for. [But] that will be an individual decision for him.

"Morgs is the leader of not just the guys in the team but off the field as well. He is the one who has really driven this forward.

"I think the rest of the boys try and run through a brick wall for him and the effort that Ben Stokes put in yesterday was just an example of that."

Bayliss was not fully convinced he could bring England's dismal record at World Cups to an end when he was appointed four years ago, but the Australian will leave his post after the Ashes vindicated for a steadfast commitment to aggressive and positive cricket.

"I wasn't sure [when I started] but it was certainly a country with a long history of cricket and I knew that they desperately wanted to do better than they had been doing," Bayliss added. "[I was told] no stone would be left unturned in an effort to get that World Cup.

"It's justification for how we went about it for the last four years. At different times we have copped a bit of criticism but we had an end goal in mind and this is the result."

England director of cricket Ashley Giles is uninterested in claims they were erroneously given an extra run in their incredible World Cup final win over New Zealand.

The tournament hosts lifted the trophy for the first time courtesy of having struck more boundaries than the Black Caps after the scores were tied at the end of 50 overs and then a Super Over.

However, arguably the pivotal moment in a bewitching contest came with the fourth ball of England's final over as, after hitting a full toss to deep midwicket, Ben Stokes inadvertently deflected Martin Guptill's throw to the fence as he ran back for two.

England were awarded six runs to take them within three of victory, falling one short but eventually prevailing on boundaries after both teams scored 15 in the Super Over.

But MCC rule 19:8 states that additional runs to a boundary from an overthrow or wilful act of fielder can only be awarded if the two batsmen have crossed at the time of the throw.

Stokes and Adil Rashid had not crossed when Guptill released the ball, and five-time ICC umpire of the year Simon Taufel said England should have only been awarded five runs, describing the six as a "clear mistake" and an "error of judgment", though he conceded the difficulty of officiating such a freak turn of events in the heat of the moment.

That is of no concern to Giles, who when asked whether the extra run mattered to him replied: "Not really.

"You could argue the last ball that [Trent] Boult bowled was a full toss on leg stump and if Stokes' hadn't just been looking for two he probably would've banged it out of the ground anyway.

"We are world champions; we have got the trophy and we intend to keep it."

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