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'Ironically, we were a bit rusty': All Blacks delighted after final quarter rampage

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Matt Impey/ www.Photosport.nz)

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The All Blacks piled on seven tries to one against Wales in Cardiff with a final quarter onslaught equalling the highest winning margin for the visitors against the home side in Wales with 38-points.

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Captain Sam Whitelock was happy with the team’s performance after they took the lead in the third minute and never looked back, working to a 18-6 lead at halftime after two tries by their halves pairing Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara.

He felt like the All Blacks had ‘control early’ which helped build pressure which eventually took a toll in the second half as the floodgates opened up following Will Jordan’s special individual effort in the 55th minute.

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Beauden Barrett on reaching 100 games for the All Blacks
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Beauden Barrett on reaching 100 games for the All Blacks

“Really happy with the way the boys performed tonight,” captain Sam Whitelock said.

“I felt like we had control early and it always helps when Beaudy gets an intercept first up, and gets us on the front foot which allows us to build pressure straight away.

“I was really happy with the way the boys started, it’s something that we have to try and do every week.”

Head coach Ian Foster mirrored Whitelock’s thoughts and explained that while Wales narrowed the gap to 28-16 following a smart try to inside centre Johnny Williams from a grubber kick, they weren’t worried about the situation.

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“I think your question was were we worried when Wales scored their try, well we weren’t worried but we didn’t want them to score a try,” Foster said.

“I thought that first 50-odd minutes they were really competitive, they played with a lot of passion, they held the ball like we expected them to, and ran hard. I thought our defence was outstanding.

“We were really disciplined, we put them under pressure and once we started to pick up a few turnovers and force a few weak kicks I think we started to get the opportunities we were looking for.

“The game was what we expected from Wales, they do squeeze you a lot, but I was delighted with the composure of our guys to play through that.

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The win was the All Blacks 11th of the season, after winning the Rugby Championship title with a record of 5-1, the side is tracking well ahead of their quest to win back the World Cup in 2023.

Foster explained that 2023 is a ‘long way away’ and this year is about building depth from the ‘tour like no other’ as they blood new players into the squad and build experience from big games against Northern Hemisphere opposition.

“It’s a long way away [the World Cup], it’s in the back of our mind I guess from a planning side,” Foster explained.

“This year for us, we’ve called it a tour like no other. We hit the road mid-August, we’re still together, we’re not fighting and scratching at each other. We’ve survived about eight or nine weeks as a group.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the group. I think we are using this as a chance to really build some depth, we’ve had players come in and out, but overall really delighted with this campaign.

“We know we’ve got three more weeks to go, it is going to be a chance if we can play well the next three weeks we’ll have 39 players that all got game time and it bodes well for the future.

The 54-16 win in Cardiff was a record-equalling margin of 38-points against Wales in Wales by a New Zealand side, a milestone that the coach was unaware of but happy to hear. More importantly, Foster said the group is in a ‘good spot’ with morale having been on the road since mid-August.

“I didn’t know about the 38-point record, so that’s nice,” he said.

“In terms of our confidence, this group is in a good spot. We’re working hard for each other, clearly we’ve had quite a few obstacles and a bit of adversity the last seven to eight weeks.

“Even tonight, even though it’s our seventh test in nine weeks, we still have a number of guys who haven’t played for four weeks. So I think you could see some of that in the early part of the game.

“Ironically, we were a bit rusty after all this time away together. We’re delighted with that win, coming here putting 50 up, finishing strong and have a number of the newer guys feel what it’s like playing in the Northern Hemisphere where everything doesn’t go your own way.

“Teams know how to pressure you, and we certainly got put under pressure tonight.”

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