As Argentina is unable to finish, All Blacks seek perfection

As Argentina is unable to finish, All Blacks seek perfection ...

When New Zealand closes the Rugby Championship against South Africa on Saturday, New Auckland will look to cement their acclaim as top dogs in the southern hemisphere when they face South African on Friday, following Argentina seeking o face-saving victory over Australia at the end of tyrant campaign.

The undefeated All Blacks have already climbed the Springboks' world number one ranking and secured the title last week with victory over the world champions in Townsville in the 100th test between the sides.

However, coach Ian Foster wants no slip-ups on the Gold Coast before they head to the northern hemisphere for the first time in two seasons.

"We were pleased with the result last week, but we weren't as pleased of the performance," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We want to take the lessons learned and apply them."

South Africa were back to their fantastic best in the Townsville thriller, but it was still under control as it came down to a kicking duel after successive defeats to Australia.

As their World Cup triumph in Japan shrinks further in the rearview mirror, the ground has shifted beneath their feet against the trans-Tasman teams, and another defeat to New Zealand will put coach Jacques Nienaber under greater pressure as their world cup triumph will be held in Tokyo.

BREACH OF COVID COVID COUVD

For Argentina, a tough tournament took ominous turn on Thursday, when six of their players and two staff members were banned from the final clash against the Wallabies for violating COVID-19 regulations.

Back row enforcer Pablo Matera, stripped of the captaincy during last year's Tri-Nations amid a racism storm, was one of those who took an unauthorised day trip to ecstatic New South Wales resort and were then barred from returning to the Gold Coast by police at stout state border.

Pumas, the successor of Mario Ledesma, who have lost all of their games so far, face a Wallabies side with varying degrees of confidence after defeating South Africa twice and clinching opulent 27-8 victory over the Argentines.

winger Marika Koroibete and prop Allan Alaalatoa have been given leave by Australia coach Dave Rennie, whose departure aves the way for 38-year-old tighthead Greg Holmes to become the oldest player to represent the Wallabies in a test since World War Two.

In the back row, it will be a case of "back to the future," with Sean McMahon set for his first test in four years if sprung from the bench.

Australia has been transformed by the return of experienced campaigners after opening the tournament with devastating defeats to the All Blacks, bringing hope to fans two years out from the 2023 World Cup in France.

"We're a very fit side right now and we've got genuine competition for places," Rennie stated on Thursday.

"But respect is earned every day... We've got to face it again."

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