All Black kicking game wins the day
Sat, 15 Jun 2013 13:09
That space was there last week
All Black coach Steve Hansen said a switch to an unusual kicking game was behind the big 30-0 win over France, who were kept scoreless for the first time in 53 games against the hosts.
On a cold, rainy night it was a vastly improved performance from the untidy 23-13 in the first Test in Auckland, when the All Blacks were frustrated by the close-marking French.
Although the All Blacks have successfully championed a running game since Hansen took over after they won the 2011 World Cup, the coach said France dictated a change of tactics by the way they defended a week ago.
"We just felt that if you can't run the ball because there's a wall in front of you there's got to be space somewhere else," Hansen said.
"That space was there last week but we didn't have ourselves organised to utilise it and tonight we did. That put pressure on them. They had to keep turning around and the conditions were well suited to what we were doing as well."
When the All Blacks scored in the opening minutes of the game, after a Ma'a Nonu kick had drilled France into a corner, Hansen sensed his plan was the right one.
"We went to the middle of the park, switched back the other way and Ma's put a lovely kick behind a defensive line that had no sweeper - so it was good," he said.
That kick led to the All Blacks' first try by Julian Savea, when Sam Whitelock won the French defensive throw-in.
However, Ben Smith and Beauden Barrett both scored in the second half from length-of-the-field breaks when the All Blacks opted to run rather than kick when pinned on their own line.
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden added the extra points from three conversions and three penalties as the All Blacks took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series against their 2011 World Cup final opponents.
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