The Rugby Championship

All Blacks smash Pumas to close in on Test win record

New Zealand defeated Argentina 36-17 in the Rugby Championship on Saturday to close in on a new record of 18 consecutive Test victories.

Having already sealed the 2016 Rugby Championship crown, Steve Hansen's imperious world champions now have the record books in sight, as they notched a 16th victory in succession in Buenos Aires.

New Zealand and South Africa jointly hold the record of 17 straight wins, set in the 1960s and 1990s respectively.

Hansen's All Blacks can match the achievements of their predecessors if they beat the Springboks in Durban next weekend.

Saturday's match in South America was over as a contest by half-time, as Anton Lienert-Brown, Ryan Crotty, Dane Coles and TJ Perenara crossed for tries in quick succession. Beauden Barrett converted three to go with the early penalty he sent over.

Lienert-Brown powered over to open the try-scoring in the 28th minute after receiving quick ball from Barrett following a scrum metres out from Argentina's line.

The Chiefs back then turned provider, feeding Crotty to muscle his way through the Pumas defence from close range.

Star man Lienert-Brown was involved again in New Zealand's third, charging down a Pumas kick and allowing Israel Dagg to gain possession, the ball making its way back to Lienert-Brown, who popped it up for Coles to dart over unopposed. 

Perenara then burst clear to cross on the counterattack moments before half-time, bagging the visitors' fourth try of a devastating 12-minute spell.  

The Pumas' only reply in the first half came from the boot of Nicolas Sanchez in the 34th minute, as the demoralised hosts went in 29-3 down at the break.

It appeared as if the onslaught would continue when Brad Smith touched down five minutes into the second half, Lienert-Brown again the provider and Barrett converting.

But Argentina did restore some pride thanks to converted tries from Facundo Isa and Joaquin Tuculet, as first Joe Moody and then Liam Squire were sent to the sinbin for the visitors. 

But it was not enough to prevent the All Blacks from maintaining a 100 per cent record in this year's Rugby Championship.