Ben Smith: English side prove they're a force

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 22:53 07/06/2014
Ben Smith
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
MID-AIR JUGGLING: Ben Smith contests a high ball with England's Jonny May.
Conrad Smith
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ Zoom
An elated Conrad Smith after diving over for the match-winning try in the 78th minute.

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All Blacks wing Ben Smith believes England proved tonight they cannot be underestimated.

Despite missing a host of first choice players, the visitors rattled the All Blacks to show they will be a force over the three-test series, which now moves to Dunedin.

"Yeah I think they did [prove a point]," Smith said. "They're a confident team and they like to back themselves.

"England are a quality nation and they showed it's going to be a tough couple of games coming up.

"You've always got to give every team respect and England definitely deserve that respect. The last couple of times we've played them it's come down to a couple of points.

"They were impressive all around the park. It was a helluva test match."

Smith endured a frustrating evening with limited chances and numerous handling errors halting any attacking continuity.  

"That was because England put us under a lot of pressure at times. Full credit to them."

The All Blacks did, however, display enough composure to lay on a try for Conrad Smith in the 78th minute to seal a victory which preserved their 20-year unbeaten record at Eden Park and 15-match winning streak.

"We'll take a lot out of it and see where we can improve."

English coach Stuart Lancaster admitted his side missed a chance to beat the All Blacks for only the third time in New Zealand.  

"At 15-all it's all about how you manage territory and how you close out the game. In tight games it's sometimes a dropped goal that wins it," he said. "We definitely need to win the next test. The game next week is huge for us. We want to tie the series and go to a decider in Hamilton.

"The overriding emotion is frustration. We got to bottle that and turn it into something positive next week.

"I'm incredibly proud of the effort with a number of players sitting in the stands. It was very pleasing on the back of limited preparation time. There are going to be changes. They will definitely improve but we will as well. We'll take a lot from this game."

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