All Blacks show off depth
Dunedin -The All Blacks policy of creating across the board depth paid dividends Saturday when they beat Australia 41-33 in Dunedin despite the late withdrawals of captain Richie McCaw and wing Cory Jane.
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A pair of 21-year-olds, Sam Cane and Charles Piutau, with 17 Tests between them, were thrust into the starting line up to replace McCaw and Jane and their combined 163 Tests yet the youngsters proved to be central figures in the victory.
"It's nice to know we've got another one," coach Steve Hansen said when comparing Cane to McCaw, a three-time world player of the year, while he rated Piutau, having his first run-on start, as "close to being player of the day".
Cane, who has been groomed as McCaw's successor, has blossomed this year and felt he was "starting to get a bit more comfortable with every game".
Matched against the highly rated Wallabies openside flanker Michael Hooper, Cane was an outstanding figure at the breakdown with his turnover skills.
He was also instrumental in breaking open the game when his ever-present support play put him on hand to take the final pass in a move involving speedsters Julian Savea and Israel Dagg to score the try that put the All Blacks up 20-9 after 30 minutes.
"He's just getting better and better with game time and experience," said Hansen who has now started Cane in five Tests this year.
Hansen singled out Piutau for "defending magnificently" as the Wallabies tried and failed to get around the fledgling international.
In addition to Cane's try, Savea, Aaron Cruden and stand-in captain Kieran Read also scored for the All Blacks with Cruden adding three conversions and four penalties for a match tally of 23 points. Beauden Barrett added a fifth penalty.
For Australia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt To'omua and Tevita Kuridrani scored tries while Quade Cooper added three conversions, three penalties and a drop goal.
It was the All Blacks 10th win from 10 Tests this year, and they also equalled their longest unbeaten streak on home soil -- a 30-match run between 2003 and 2008.