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Match Review - All Blacks v Barbarians

allblacks.com     05 Dec 2004

Henry gave a host of his youngsters the chance of a first start in the Gartmore International against the Barbarians at Twickenham - and they responded by running in seven tries to secure a 47-19 victory.

The win brought to a close an unbeaten European tour for the All Blacks which included Test wins over Italy, Wales and France.

"We are delighted we have 31 guys who played well on this tour," said Henry. "We had a lot of depth, they enjoyed the tour, they were jumping out of their skin and that is a good foundation for next year.

"It was a quality opposition here, a very experienced Barbarians side with Test players with a lot of caps.

"They put our young guys under pressure - and they handled that. A lot of young guys will be better for the experience. They all played well. I think they have learned from the older players in the team.

"We came here with an objective to play better rugby, to build a greater foundation with players competing for one position - and that has been done."

Henry took charge of the Lions tour in 2001 and will be in the unique position of coaching New Zealand against the tourists next summer.

"I don't think New Zealanders will understand what a Lions tour is about until it hits them. There will be 20,000 tourists who will follow the Lions. It will be huge for the country, and I am sure it will be an outstanding contest," he said.

"I am pretty keen. It's unusual to have been involved in both teams. I think it's going to be huge rugby contest and great for the game."

New Zealand leave for home rated the number one team in the world, having left a marker with their victory in Paris last week.

But Barbarians coach Bob Dwyer insists they still have some way to go before they can be considered the best.

"A purple patch doesn't make you the best team in the world, but certainly over the last couple of weeks they have played the best rugby," said Dwyer, who coached Australia to their first World Cup victory in 1991.

"Most people would say, on current form, they are the most difficult side to beat. Against France they were superlative.

"But they were a tad lucky to beat Wales a couple of weeks ago, so let's not get too excited. You have to play well over a long period of time to wear a tag like best team in the world."

The All Blacks benefited from an error-strewn Barbarians performance.

"We couldn't hold on to the ball," said Dwyer. "It was as simple as that. In the end - with New Zealand enjoying a fair bit of possession, because some of it we kept giving back to them, it was difficult for us to maintain our defence.

"If we had been able to hold on to the ball, we might have been able to put them under pressure. They played much better than we did and deserved their
win.

"If you can't hold on to ball and can't catch and pass accurately, you can't win games."

Flanker Marty Holah got the afternoon under way with the first of seven tries inside five minutes and winger Rico Gear scored twice before Ma'a Nonu, Casey Laulala, Jerome Kaino and Piri Weepu all touched down as the All Blacks coasted to victory.

The Barbarians managed three tries, through New Zealander Xavier Rush, Italian Andrea Lo Cicero and South African Albert van den Berg.

Holah charged over straight from a lineout and the Barbarians' response was to get a roll on from a lineout 10 metres out. Their impressive pack pushed Rush over for the score.

Australian Chris Latham then left the field for treatment on a finger injury and before the Barbarians could send on a replacement, New Zealand had exploited the extra man and sent Gear over down the vacant wing.

Just two minutes before the interval Nonu's arcing run took him to the line as New Zealand opened up a 12-point lead.

Within three minutes of the restart Gear was over again and New Zealand extended their lead to 26-12. The All Blacks then spread the ball from right to left and back again to create the opening for Laulala.

Kaino showed why he is considered such a prospect Down Under with a powerful run to notch New Zealand's sixth try.

Van den Berg galloped home to pull a score back, but the final act was reserved for Weepu.