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Cruden keen for another chance

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Sportal.co.nz     10 Sep 2012     Getty Images

The diminutive Manawatu and Chiefs five-eighths was harsh in his assessment of himself in what were miserable conditions, especially in the first half at Westpac Stadium, but coach Steve Hansen summed it up by saying that both Cruden and his halfback partner Aaron Smith would have learnt plenty in the game.

"I'm still pretty disappointed how I went. It was time in the saddle but I didn't really take it with both hands," he said.

Cruden felt he should have been able to get more control.

"There are a few sore bodies. We knew they would be really physical and play with a lot of heart and passion and they didn't disappoint us," Cruden said.

Coping with the unfamiliar defensive structure the Argentinians employed had caused the All Blacks to have to think on their feet.

"They were tough defensively. They have an unusual structure. It looks like they are giving you space on the outside and we probably fell into a trap at times, but that is something to learn from.

"We probably didn't do enough to play to the corners but we addressed that in the second half, we were able to focus a little more in the second half," he said.

However, the lessons would be absorbed, the side would prepare well for Saturday's Test against South Africa and the challenge would be met, he said.

Cruden felt that by launching wave after wave of attacks at the Pumas, their defences eventually faltered.

"In the second half we picked the pace up and they seemed to tire. They slowed it up pretty well at times."

Goal-kicking was difficult under the conditions and Cruden said while he had played often enough at the ground he didn't think it had ever been as tricky as it was on Saturday. His approach was to aim to put the down the middle no matter what angle he was kicking from and it generally worked all right, especially his last shot at the goal from the sideline to convert wing Cory Jane's try.

Meanwhile, wing Julian Savea stepped up a notch in his career with another demonstration of the power he brings to the side. He was especially prominent being called in as a linebreaker at time and proved more than a handful for the Pumas to contain.

In the conditions he was put to the test, especially when the Argentinians kicked for position but while it was the worst conditions he had played in during his short career he felt the back three had been secure.

"I like to get involved as much as I can, and tried to run hard at them. They were very physical and real niggly and if they hit you it hurts.

"They have got a really good drift defence," he said. "They have a really high work rate and they play for each other and have a lot of pride."

However, when the All Blacks managed to lift their rate of play the openings started to appear and Savea was the first beneficiary but he acknowledged that he hadn't been expecting the final pass before scoring as second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu looked like he could score by himself.

South Africa also had plenty of big men but they were totally different teams and it was a case of the All Blacks refocusing for Saturday.