All Blacks very satisfied after big improvement

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 11:31 24/08/2014
SPOILS OF VICTORY: All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are all smiles after securing the prized Bledisloe Cup for another year last night.
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SPOILS OF VICTORY: All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are all smiles after securing the prized Bledisloe Cup for another year last night.

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Eleven years ago Richie McCaw was there when the All Blacks won back the Bledisloe Cup and he took great pride in locking it away for another season last night.

The draw in Sydney and last night's crushing 51-20 demolition of the Wallabies at Eden Park was enough to secure the coveted trophy for another season with one test still to play.

''Being there when we won it back, I understand how tough it was,'' McCaw said.

''I never want to get into the situation of leaving the door open for the Wallabies to win it. We had an opportunity tonight. I love winning that big trophy and having a drink out of it.''

McCaw wasn't blemish free in this test.

In fact, after being yellow carded in the first half, he spent 10 minutes berating his actions before returning to score two tries.

''I felt a bit stupid sitting in the seat there,'' he said of playing the ball on the ground.

''Luckily we did didn't concede too much while I was sitting there. I don't know why I did that. It was a reflex that as soon as I did it I wished I hadn't.''

The six-try-to-two victory was built on the All Blacks' ruthlessly physicality.

After laying down the challenge to his tight-five, McCaw was naturally pleased with their collective response. Two tries from rolling mauls and one from a scrum push over highlighted the supreme display.

''They set the standard, especially the big boys upfront. We put the acid on those guys to front up this week. We looked at what happened last week and for a lot of the game we were perhaps getting beaten in the contact areas.

''They knew that and they set the platform. Rugby is a helluva lot easier when you're going forward.

''You get the odd perk of being skipper and being able to put yourself in the right spot.''

Much like his skipper, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was satisfied to notch a half century against the intense rivals.

''Is it something to be proud of? Yes of course it is,'' Hansen said.

''Australia are a very good rugby side and tonight probably doesn't reflect that. They'll bounce back. We were very fortunate we only had to wait seven days to get another opportunity.

''It's a pretty special team. You don't win 17 games in a row without being a special team. That puts us in the same league as the South Africans and the '67 side.

''I've always thought the '67 team was one of the greatest sides ever so to be able to do what they've done was pretty special.''

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster noted the dramatic improvement from halves pairing Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden.

''He learnt a lot of lessons from last week and that was pleasing,'' Foster said of his first five-eighth's influential efforts.

''He sat back a little bit last week and let the game unfold without taking control of it. The way he took control with ball in hand was fantastic.''

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Halfback Smith enjoyed a dream ride, but his delivery and vision around when to snipe was faultless.

''It dovetailed with Aaron Cruden,'' Foster said. ''They took a bit of a hit last week. They wanted to drive the team around tonight. Yes they were given a platform but they got the tempo right for us.

''We started to see the ball coming away crisply. He'll be really satisfied.''

Dejected Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie claimed he knew the All Blacks would hit them this way, while captain Michael Hooper said his men ''weren't broken.''

''There were no surprises but you've got to deal with it,'' McKenzie said.

''We expected it but we didn't respond to it.'' 

- Stuff

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