Outmuscled, out-played and out-done, All Blacks suffer horror defeat

With a week off before facing the Pumas in Newcastle, the All Blacks will spend their time licking their wounds while they contemplate what went wrong in their historic 25-15 loss to Argentina in Sydney.

Looking to bounce back following their shock loss to the Wallabies a week earlier, Ian Foster named his strongest team with experienced forward Joe Moody making his return, while the same backline that so easily dismantled the Wallabies in Sydney two weeks ago made a reappearance.

The Pumas proved it didn't matter though; piling on the pressure from the early minutes and forcing the All Blacks into several uncharacteristic mistakes. Argentina were in the All Blacks' faces, provoking them and causing friction, and it worked. The All Blacks were frazzled.

Forced to chance their hand with the ball, the All Blacks kicked possession away too often while their handling was below par with plenty of dropped ball. For a team that is forever lauded for their composure, the All Blacks were sloppy, turning the ball over nine times compared to the Pumas' three, and struggled to find any opportunity to stamp themselves on the match.

"We probably kicked away too much ball when we had an opportunity to put some phases against them," Foster said post match. "But they were doing that against us and put us under some pressure and picked up some penalties, and we probably needed to do the same back to them.

"I think we didn't compose ourselves enough in the end, we just weren't able to take some opportunities in that second half through rushing things, a couple of errors and as each opportunity got lost you could see the Argentineans grow in belief, and they didn't stop.

"We've clearly got to go away and ask ourselves some serious questions. That loss is going to hurt."

New Zealand's many threats were nullified. Beauden and Jordie Barrett made little impact, Jack Goodhue was easily shut down. Caleb Clarke, the tackle-busting wing who barged his way into rugby headlines only weeks earlier was the standout, scoring a try in the closing minutes, but even he struggled to make an impression on the match, while Richie Mo'unga failed to create many chances for his backline. Kicking the ball dead while looking for the sideline ahead of halftime typified his game.

The whole side made just one linebreak in the whole 80 minutes.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks forward pack were outmuscled and outdone at the breakdown. Physicality-wise, New Zealand were off the ball, and gave Argentina every opportunity to dominate the match.

The Pumas' line-speed was incredible and the All Blacks had no answers. Argentina played with fire in their bellies and full of passion, while New Zealand looked listless and almost confused as to how they were getting so out-played by a side that hadn't been on the Test pitch in 402 days.

Penalised 10 times compared to Argentina's eight, the All Blacks never gained momentum, and found themselves on the back foot for most of the game. With only 39 percent possession throughout the second half, the All Blacks had their backs against the wall and couldn't find a way around it. Several times they found themselves attacking Argentina's line and coughed up the ball, or failed to secure the breakdown. For most of the match they didn't look like the world No.2 side.

Argentina did to the All Blacks what New Zealand so often do to their opposition. Starved them of the ball, frustrated them and forced mistakes. Instead of the easy win the team -- and many punters -- thought they'd get, the All Blacks were ambushed by a more passionate and accurate Pumas side.

"We certainly didn't underestimate them. We've had those arm wrestles with them before.

"They challenged us on our composure and it's probably two weeks in a row we haven't handled it as well as we could. We gave them a lot of penalties and a lot of field position and particularly in that first 40."

For the first time in nine years the All Blacks have suffered back-to-back losses, while the pressure has started to mount on Foster, who now has the worst win rate -- just 40 percent -- of any New Zealand coach after five matches since 1946.

There will be plenty of self-examination from the All Blacks over the coming weeks and questions will need to be answered in Newcastle. Their Bankwest and Brisbane losses were serious setbacks for side that have had more poor showings in 2020 than positive.