17 Sep 2012

All Blacks almost there, Pumas hungry for first win

6:01 am on 17 September 2012

The All Blacks need just two bonus points from their two remaining tests to claim the inaugural Rugby Championship title.

Following Saturday's 21-11 win over the Springboks in Dunedin, Richie McCaw's team has all but wrapped up the competition and take a week off before travelling to Argentina for next weekend's clash with the Pumas on home soil. They face South Africa in Johannesburg the weekend after.

Coach Steve Hansen says a call on playmaker Dan Carter's fitness will be made late this week.

Meanwhile Argentina insist their first win is just around the corner after letting slip a golden opportunity to beat the Wallabies at Gold Coast on Saturday.

The Pumas led 19-6 with 20 minutes to play only for Australia to score 17 unanswered points and claim their second consecutive win, following another come-from-behind victory over South Africa in Perth the week before.

If you believe some sections of the Australian media, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was within 24 minutes of losing his job at Skilled Park but the late rally was still by no means a convincing victory.

Deans spoke afterwards about how the win should not be underestimated given how strong the Pumas have been in the Rugby Championship, particularly drawing with South Africa and holding their own against the All Blacks for an hour.

There is no doubt Argentina have been more competitive than many expected in the championship and the Australians have shown great character to battle back two weeks in a row.

But all too often it has been mistakes that have first blunted the Wallabies' attacking endeavours and then allowed the opposition to score and take the lead in the first place.