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New Zealand beats Argentina 20-16 in Rugby Championship

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) New Zealand began the on-field buildup to its defense of the World Cup with a scratch combination and a scratchy 20-16 win over Argentina in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Missing regular captains Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock, New Zealand lacked leadership, focus, and discipline and was fully stretched to hold out a Pumas team seeking its first ever win over the All Blacks.

New Zealand clung to its brittle four-point lead for more than 30 minutes, after a try to fullback Emiliano Boffelli brought Argentina in sight of an historic victory.