McCaw hails tight five

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw praised the efforts of his tight five after Saturday's emphatic 39-10 victory against Australia at Eden Park. [more]

McCaw hails tight five

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw praised the efforts of his tight five after Saturday’s emphatic 39-10 victory against Australia at Eden Park.

After being out-muscled at the breakdown and out-played in the line-out and scrums by the Wallabies in Sydney in the previous weekend’s Bledisloe Cup/Tri-Nations match, the All Blacks forwards bounced back with ferocious intent on Saturday.

Ali Williams was instrumental at line-out time where the hosts stole eight times off Australian throw-ins and disrupted several others. The front row of Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore and Greg Somerville dominated at scrum-time. And the pack as a whole won the physical battle at the breakdown, meaning the half-back pairing of Jimmy Cowan and Daniel Carter got front-foot ball which they used to good effect.

McCaw, who was back in the side after a six-week lay-off, felt the effort up front allowed the All Blacks to build sustained pressure at the right end of the field which they were then able to turn into points.

“The tight five especially had a hell of a big game and they (Australia) never got any front-foot ball. Some of the tackles that went in forced turnovers and we put the ball at the right end of the paddock,” he said.

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“That came through pressure and we camped down their end of the field for periods and got the points we were after.”

Tactically the All Blacks were far more astute this week, with Carter and Cowan’s kicking ensuring the team enjoyed good field position and both of Woodcock’s tries were a result of that.

“I thought tactically they played very well,” coach Graham Henry said.

“We learned a lot from last week, the players learned a lot, the coaches learned a lot, and we changed the game-plan around and the guys executed that exceptionally well which was exceptionally pleasing.”

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans described the match as a mirror image of what had happened in Sydney, only this time it was the All Blacks who had the upper hand, with two second-half tries to Ma’a Nonu ensuring the home team came away with what could be a crucial bonus point.

“The All Blacks built pressure and they didn’t allow us to build any pressure. They were very effective on the tackle line, the gain line and were very effective around the breakdown and as a consequence we weren’t able to get into the game,” said Deans.

“They profited from some of the pressure that they built and it was one of those days where you try and create momentum, sometimes you look outside the square to do that, and you get a sense that nothing’s going to work and that essentially is what happened.”

Stirling Mortlock, who returned after missing last weekend’s match because of concussion, said the dressing room had been a very quiet one full of disappointed players.

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