Pressure mounts on Ian Foster after second loss in a row

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 15 Nov 2020, 10:29AM
Sam Cane and Ian Foster after the All Blacks loss against the Pumas. (Photo / Photosport)
Sam Cane and Ian Foster after the All Blacks loss against the Pumas. (Photo / Photosport)

Pressure mounts on Ian Foster after second loss in a row

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 15 Nov 2020, 10:29AM

Argentina have pulled off one of the great test rugby upsets, stunning the All Blacks 25-15 for the first time - and leaving rugby fans questioning the new era under coach Ian Foster.

The fallout is coming thick and fast, with many - including All Black great Sir John Kirwan - questioning the All Blacks' discipline and leadership. Foster, who has just two wins in his first five tests in charge, admits his players were "rattled again".

The Pumas' maiden triumph over the All Blacks, in their 30th attempt, will be celebrated throughout a proud rugby nation but so, too, does it deserve the upmost recognition for the circumstances in which it arrives.

That they did it in Sydney, after spending two weeks in quarantine and last playing a test 402 days ago, speaks volumes of the achievement. The tears from many of their players, and coach Mario Ledesma, tells you everything about what this means to the Pumas.

Argentina have been oh so close on so many occasions against the All Blacks but they, finally, have their historic moment after 27 straight losses since the 21-21 draw in 1985 in Buenos Aires.

Those Argentineans in the 9063-strong crowd were celebrating in style after watching their men dominate the All Blacks from the outset.

Collectively the All Blacks were left in a state of disbelief and captain Sam Cane was extremely disappointed.

"The lesson is in test match rugby you've got to turn up with the right intent, the right attitude every single weekend, or you get it handed to you," Cane said.

"They were good tonight and we weren't good enough. Their defence was outstanding."

The All Blacks were supposed to respond from last week's defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane but despite returning to his first-choice side, Ian Foster's tenure was instead punctured by successive losses to further heap pressure on his shaky new era.

The inconsistency that has plagued the All Blacks this season again reared its ugly head.

Ill-discipline, urgency and execution were all lacking for the All Blacks and they blew repeated chances – botching a lineout five metres out and Rieko Ioane dropping the ball with Caleb Clarke unmarked outside him – in the second spell as they attempted to haul in a 16-3 halftime deficit.

Countless times in previous years we have witnessed the All Blacks pull off great escapes but that clinical composure was nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps most concerning of all, though, was when passes hit the deck almost every time a player in blue and white dived on it first. Based on body language alone, the Pumas certainly wanted this victory more.

Argentina were dominant at scrum time, they found success with their maul and in Nicolás Sánchez, who calmly collected 25 points, they had the superior playmaker.

Foster said the underdone Pumas turned a "disadvantage into an advantage".

"It was the second week in a row we haven't had good composure when things didn't go our way," Foster said.

"We're hurting greatly but they should be very proud of their team. It was a historic win for them."

All Blacks 15 (Sam Cane, Caleb Clarke tries; Richie Mo'unga con, pen)
Pumas 25 (Nicolás Sánchez try; con, 6 pens)
HT: 3-16

text by Liam Napier, NZ Herald