Pushed harder than many expected, the All Blacks trailed the Pumas 16-15 at halftime and were in further trouble when star No 10 Beauden Barrett was sent to the sinbin in the 49th minute.
But just as the visitors looked to profit from their numerical advantage, the South Americans froze and remain winless against the three-time world champions.
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But in between we saw a few chinks in the armour and rival Test teams will undoubtedly have noticed.
As electric as he is on his feet, McKenzie was beaten in the air on a number of occasions and failed to catch a number of towering bombs.
The young All Blacks fullback did, however, score a second half try and set up another for Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Playing his first Test of the championship, Dagg was solid in his limited opportunities.
The winger scored in the 37th minute, but was forced off early in the second half after coming off second best attempting a tackle on Argentina captain Agustin Creevy.
With Ryan Crotty rested, Lienert-Brown slotted into the midfield alongside Sonny Bill Williams.
While he didn’t do a lot wrong, the All Blacks missed Crotty’s organisation.
We’ve come to expect perfection from Williams and after struggling in Dunedin against the Wallabies, the star dual international was close to his best against Argentina.
Williams ran straight, distributed well and produced one marvellous offload for Lima Sopoaga midway through the second half as well as being hard in defence.
In his first Test since the World Cup final, Milner-Skudder was elusive and compelling to watch.
His step remains one of the best in world rugby and with limited opportunities the winger scored a try and had you sitting on the edge of the seat with every touch.
The All Blacks weren’t made to pay on this occasion, but they very nearly did.
Barrett missed all three of his shots at goal, before Sopoaga settled proceedings when the reigning world player of the year was sent to the sinbin for 10 minutes.
While Barrett scored the All Blacks’ final try and showed deft touch to set up Lienert-Brown, he overused the chip kick in his home town.
Wasn’t able to have the influence on the game he wanted, which was partly due to the pressure applied at the breakdown by the Pumas forwards.
Nonetheless, Perenara’s pass remained crisp and his kicking game solid.
Allowed Argentina to get on the board with an infringement at the ruck, but the All Blacks captain was brilliant otherwise and his captaincy shone.
Was replaced early in the second half, but that wasn’t necessarily a reflection on Savea’s output.
The explosive flanker topped the tackle count (14) and tried hard in attack.
But in a tight match, where the All Blacks were being hit hard through the middle, coach Steve Hansen opted to bring on Sam Cane to slow the game down and tidy up the breakdown.
He’s been a great of New Zealand rugby for the past decade, but Jerome Kaino could very well have played his last Test.
He ran like a bull loose in the African savanna, stampeding his way to the tryline.
His leg drive was a feature and Liam Squire must be ruing the fact he was rested.
With Sam Whitelock rested, Retallick lifted his physicality to a new level — if that’s possible — and hit every ruck with accuracy and strength.
Starting his first Test in more than a year, Romano dropped his first touch of the ball.
But the powerful Crusaders lock worked his way back into the match and provided the All Blacks with some oomph through the middle.
Didn’t see a lot of ball around the field, but Laulala was strong at set-piece.
Strong at set-piece and a handy presence on the fringes for the All Blacks.
He also showed his leadership, speaking often and respectfully with referee Angus Gardner.
His scrummaging is second to none and he showed a lot of speed, bursting onto a ball from his captain to gallop away down field.
Unfortunately, Moody could well miss the rest of the year after dislocating his shoulder.
Came on late in the match for Coles and didn’t hold back when given the chance.
Came on earlier than expected with the All Blacks needing more around the breakdown and Cane offered the home side just that.
Came on early in the second half and provided a calm head, as well as some accurate goalkicking.
Sopoaga landed four goals from five attempts, including a couple from the sideline.
But more than that, his decision making in general play was fantastic and he showed his growth as a player since making his Test debut in 2015.