Dan Carter failed to live up to his high standards but still scored 15 points to push New Zealand to a 25-19 Test victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Fly-half Carter and Pumas counterpart Federico Todeschini were both profligate with their kicks, despite being handed a number of opportunities by Welsh referee Nigel Whitehouse.
However, Carter and Crusaders team-mates Leon MacDonald and Test debutant Scott Hamilton crossed for tries, while Montpellier flanker Martin Durand scored the Pumas’ only five-pointer.
The visitors suffered a familiar first-half lull, going into the interval a point in arrears despite leading the try count 2-1.
Argentina led 16-15 at the break, courtesy of Durand’s score and 11 points from Beziers fly-half Todeschini, who added another penalty in the second period.
However, he missed several chances to claim a famous victory with weak goal-kicking.
MacDonald and Sam Tuitupou also saw yellow in the latter stages, but the All Blacks extended their unbeaten run to 10 games ahead of the Tri-Nations Series.
Stand-in New Zealand captain Jerry Collins said: “I haven’t played for a couple of weeks and we made it tough on ourselves.
“I can’t take anything away from Argentina, they’re very hard to beat at home and we just did enough to get through.
“It was a good work-out, but that’s probably not what people at home want to hear, or see on the scoreboard.”
Pumas skipper Agustin Pichot was disappointed after a narrow margin decided the game for the second successive meeting.
The former Bristol scrum-half said: “That’s the second time they’ve beaten us like that, but that’s rugby, that’s sports. This time, we had to go and look for the match.
“But we made two mistakes and got penalised, and that’s how the All Blacks play. Unfortunately, that’s the All Blacks.
“They’re the best team in the world and I love their rugby.”