All Blacks set sights on outright record
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: After setting a world record for top tier sides with Saturday's Australia thrashing the All Blacks have immediately set their sights on the outright record seven games away.
To achieve that would mean a dramatic showdown with the British and Irish Lions in their third and final Test when they tour New Zealand next year.
The 37-10 win over the Wallabies in Auckland was New Zealand's 18th straight victory, eclipsing the 17 benchmark set by the 1965-69 All Blacks, and equalled twice since.
The outright record is 24 held by lowly Cyprus, a European Nations Cup division 2B team, in a six-year run up to 2014.
"That's the next horizon isn't it," All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said after the historic six-tries-to-one hiding of Australia crowned New Zealand's domination of major rugby playing countries.
"You have to win all the games between now and the end of the Lions series so it's a big challenge."
The All Blacks have four Tests remaining this year, two against Ireland, and one against Italy and France respectively, on their northern tour next month before regrouping next year to play the Lions, a combination of the best players in the British Isles.
But while Hansen basked in the glory of collecting another record, after the All Blacks last year became the first side to win back-to-back World Cups, he was unhappy with the bitter reaction from the Wallabies.
Australia coach Michael Cheika refused to congratulate the New Zealanders, instead of launching into a tirade about the refereeing and a perceived lack of respect by the All Blacks.
While Hansen tried to talk up the All Blacks' achievements after their record-breaking victory, he was bombarded by media about Cheika's refusal to acknowledge their achievement.
"This (press) conference seems to be hijacked by something that's really got nothing to do with rugby, someone who's feeling a little bit aggrieved about things," the New Zealand coach said.
"What's happened was a really good Test match between two good teams, some great rugby played and it's a good advert for the game. Seven tries scored and we were lucky to come out on the right side of it,"
Australia were in with a chance to win the Test, commanding the game for at least 50 minutes, but seemed to lose heart after a try to Henry Speight, which would have levelled the scores at 15-15, was disallowed.
Hansen accepted that was the turning point in the game saying "mentally we got a bit of a charge out of that and maybe they felt a bit flat afterwards. But after that, we certainly came back,"
The All Blacks led 15-7 with three unconverted tries at the end of the first half in a period where Australia were in charge and when New Zealand had possession they either scored tries or knocked on.
But Hansen still took some satisfaction for how his side remained in front despite being outplayed.
"What we did do was we scrambled for each other and we worked hard for each other and it wasn't until the second half we really started to come forward and make some dominant hits and get some control of the defensive area and slow down their ruck ball,"
Julian Savea scored twice and set up a try by Dane Coles in the All Blacks late surge while Israel Dagg, Anton Lienert-Brown, and TJ Perenara also touched down with Aaron Cruden landing two conversions and a penalty.
Rory Arnold scored Australia's only try with Bernard Foley adding a conversion and penalty.
Source: Agence France-Presse