Rugby Championship

Hansen praises All Blacks pack

2014-09-06 17:24
Steve Hansen (Gallo Images)

Napier - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen praised his side's defensive work, scrum and willingness to keep playing attack-minded rugby after yet another tense clash against Argentina on Saturday.

New Zealand scored four tries in wet conditions in the 28-9 win at McLean Park to secure a crucial bonus point, the first time they have done so in the Rugby Championship at home against the Pumas.

In the past two years, the All Blacks had battled to put away the stubborn South Americans in Tests in New Zealand, often not sealing victory until late in the second half.

Poor weather again played a factor on Saturday, though the All Blacks continued to play with width and keep the ball alive to stretch the Pumas' defensive line, to varying degrees of success in the wet and cool conditions.

"Very pleased with the intent and purpose of the side," said Hansen. "Yes they made a few mistakes but we made them trying to do things and play positive rugby."

The All Blacks also produced a superb defensive effort, and apart from a disallowed try to Leonardo Senatore, did not look too stretched when the Pumas tried to keep it tight with their pack, or throw the ball wide.

"You saw a very good Argentina side who are not far from getting over the hump and beating teams," Hansen added.

"They're very physical up front and got some tidy backs so it took a very good defensive effort throughout the game to keep them tryless."

While much of the build-up had focussed on the Pumas' vaunted scrum, which had demolished the Springboks in their first two Rugby Championship clashes, the All Blacks generally had parity in the set piece and at times put the Pumas under pressure.

One such scrum right at the end of the first half resulted in a try to blindside flank Liam Messam that gave the home side a 13-6 lead at the break.

The Pumas said they felt they had kicked the ball through the scrum, though television replays suggested that was because of the pressure the All Blacks were placing on them with their front row splintering and back five players going backwards.

Another scrum towards the end of the game was so solid, number eight Kieran Read was able to detach and run at Pumas' scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli and then feed Aaron Smith in the tackle for the All Blacks scrumhalf to secure the bonus point victory.

"Our scrum at times can be underestimated," Hansen said. "We scored a try right on half-time off their ball and then when the subs came on we scored a good one under the post.

"From a scrummaging point of view we can be pretty proud."

While Hansen was pleased with his side's effort, Pumas' captain Agustin Creevy was lamenting a lack of concentration at crucial moments during the game.

The Worcester hooker had spoken before the game that his side had dropped their concentration in the final 20 minutes of the their two losses to the Springboks.

While they did not threaten in the final quarter in Napier, Creevy said he was more concerned about lapses off first phase that had led to Julian Savea's second try shortly after halftime and Smith's in the final 10 minutes.

Savea's try, created when flyhalf Beauden Barrett ran at the defensive line and popped a no-look pass to the barnstorming wing, was particularly important as it put the All Blacks out to an 18-6 lead just after the break.

"We had an excellent first half then we made some easy mistakes with the tries they scored off the first phase," Creevy said through an interpreter. "Same thing against South Africa.

"The difference was this match it wasn't at the end it was at different moments of the game."


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