All Blacks back in Rugby Championship contention after dominant win, claims Foster

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Ian Foster declared New Zealand were back in contention for the Rugby Championship title after his team atoned for last week's shock defeat to Argentina by crushing the Pumas 53-3 in Hamilton.

Having lost three consecutive home Tests for the first time in their history, the All Blacks were under huge pressure to secure a second win of the campaign on Saturday, and they responded in emphatic fashion.

New Zealand restricted their opponents to no tries for the first time this year before blitzing the Pumas in the second half, with Jordie Barrett, Ardie Savea, Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett going over after the break to clinch a morale-boosting win.

Foster's future has been the subject of considerable speculation recently, but the All Blacks coach is simply concerned with the result's impact on the championship standings.

Asked whether he felt a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, Foster said: "No. It's the life of a coach.

"All we've done is put ourselves back into contention. From a championship [perspective] we've still got plenty to do, so we'll roll our sleeves up and get stuck into our work.

"It's significant in the Rugby Championship, first and foremost. This championship is important for us, and we put ourselves in a bit of a hole last week.

"We had to respond and to walk away with a bonus point and a big points differential in a tight competition at least keeps us in the race.

"I'm just proud of the way we've worked hard to get our game where we want it to be. It hasn't happened at the speed we'd like it to, but we saw signs of that tonight.

"There is no doubt the team has felt a whole lot of different pressure. I was just proud of the way the guys have hung in there and not got tight under the pressure and played with a bit of ambition."

The All Blacks' dominant success represents just their third Test win of 2022, and prevented Argentina from sealing their first back-to-back victories over their hosts.

Foster was delighted with how his team responded to the criticism coming their way, adding: "It was a big week for us. We had to respond, and I thought we did it in a really ruthless manner.

"There were a lot of questions about putting the same group out again, but I really believe in the direction we're going and am delighted with the response against a pretty enthusiastic Argentina team."