All Blacks must im­prove more – coach

The Sunday Independent - - Sport -

AUCK­LAND: The New Zealand All Blacks can­not af­ford to get “se­duced” by their 52-11 vic­tory over France in the first Test as they need to do more work ahead of next week’s sec­ond match in Welling­ton, coach Steve Hansen said yes­ter­day.

The All Blacks ex­ploited a du­bi­ous 51st minute yel­low card to France lock Paul Gabril­lagues and ran riot with seven tries in the sec­ond half.

It was the fourth time the All Blacks had passed 50 points against France. De­spite record­ing a 12th suc­ces­sive vic­tory against Les Bleus, Hansen said they still needed to im­prove.

“We have just got to keep build­ing our game,” Hansen said. “The big thing for us is not to get se­duced by the score­board. We have to keep our feet on the ground and work hard.”

The world cham­pi­ons had en­tered the match fac­ing sev­eral ques­tion marks fol­low­ing a raft of in­juries that had ruled out four se­nior play­ers and kept oth­ers, in­clud­ing cap­tain Sam White­lock, out of ac­tion for the past month.

France were also un­der-pre­pared and un­der­strength for the match at Eden Park, but looked or­gan­ised in de­fence and held an 11-8 lead at half-time.

The All Blacks, how­ever, had ap­peared to have seized the mo­men­tum of the game in the fi­nal 10 minutes of the first half as they ham­mered away at the French line with­out suc­cess and Hansen said he felt that was cru­cial in the out­come.

“I thought the 10 minutes be­fore half-time (were im­por­tant),” he said. “We were try­ing to go through them rather than around them and once we started to do that and make them work a bit harder then we knew it would pay div­i­dends later on.

“You have to re­spect (their de­fence). You can’t just go willy nilly all the time. You’ve got to work them around the field a bit and we man­aged to do that.

“At half-time we told them to keep do­ing what they were do­ing, be a lit­tle bit more ac­cu­rate with the ball and in the sec­ond half we did that and the mo­men­tum swung our way.”

Aus­tralia coach Michael Cheika said his team’s work ethic was the key fac­tor in their 18-9 vic­tory over Ire­land in Bris­bane yes­ter­day but warned his play­ers they would have to step up to an­other level next week.

Cheika blooded three new caps and got some big per­for­mances from his more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers as the Wal­la­bies outscored the tourists two tries to nil to hand the Six Na­tions cham­pi­ons their first de­feat in 13 Tests.

Even if it was of­ten far from vin­tage flu­ent at­tack­ing Aus­tralian rugby from the home side, Cheika was de­lighted with the work rate his team dis­played in the open­ing clash of a three-match se­ries.

“Look­ing at pre­vi­ous games, Ire­land, par­tic­u­larly in the for­ward pack, have out­worked other teams,” he said.

“I felt like we needed to win the ‘hard work’ bat­tle just to have a foothold in the game and then see what our backs could from there. We were far from per­fect but I think that work ethic got us through.”

If Ire­land have be­come al­most an ex­em­plar of con­sis­tency as they have vaulted to sec­ond in the world rank­ings un­der Joe Sch­midt, Aus­tralia mixed beat­ing the All Blacks with two losses to Scot­land last year.

Cheika has talked about lit­tle else but con­sis­tency and re­duc­ing Aus­tralia’s penalty count this year and he will clearly not be chang­ing his tune in the run-up to next week’s sec­ond test in Mel­bourne.

“The big thing for us has been con­sis­tency,” he said. We have had real highs over the last cou­ple of years and we’ve got to stay con­sis­tent over the rest of the se­ries,” he said.

“It’s about mind­set ev­ery week. We’ve got to have that win­ner’s mind­set all the time.”

Scrumhalf Will Ge­nia was out­stand­ing de­spite hav­ing played no rugby for a month and Kurt­ley Beale was Aus­tralia’s cre­ative force at in­side cen­tre.

Skip­per Michael Hooper gave a typ­i­cally com­mit­ted 80-minute per­for­mance in the back row and his fel­low flanker David Po­cock showed Aus­tralia what they had been miss­ing last year.

“We knew it was go­ing to be tough and it was in the bal­ance for most of the game,” said Po­cock, who scored a try on his re­turn to the Test arena af­ter a sab­bat­i­cal. “We hung in there and played with the ball. I guess it was good to get that win (but) there’s plenty more to come. Hope­fully we can build on that. We know they’ll be bet­ter next week so that’s the chal­lenge for us.” – Reuters

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