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Tactics bring reward

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Sportal.co.nz     16 Jun 2013     Getty Images

Coach Steve Hansen was delighted with the way the All Blacks had been able to expose France behind its defence, several times getting kicks to ground and catching the visitors out of position and under pressure from fast-following chasers.

"If you can't run the ball because there is a wall in front of you, there's got to be space somewhere else. That space was there last week but we didn't have ourselves organised to utilise it and tonight we did.

"We took another step forward on where we want to go to and that put pressure on them [France]. They had to keep turning around. I guess the conditions were well suited towards what we were doing as well," he said.

First five-eighths Aaron Cruden's kicking game had benefited from him not trying to kick the ball too hard which caused his timing to go. But by just stroking the ball he had more control and he had done very well on the night, he said.

Hansen said it was a performance the selectors expected, getting the time together had made all the difference and at training during the week ahead of the game the coaches had felt the players had gone up 'nine or 10 cogs' and accuracy and sharpness had been evident.

"We got our game right, our kicking game was good, our chase was good and our defence was simply outstanding," he said.

Hansen said the defensive development was as much about off-field work the team did together as on-the-field while defence coach Aussie McLean had made one or two changes to have players in the right places that had also made a difference.

"They work really, really hard for it. The game was in the balance until that period when we did defend for a long time and then got the opportunity to strike and took it," he said.

As for his captain, Hansen said Read had been outstanding and leading the side well and there was a feeling of contentment for the way he was doing his job.

He had suffered a bad hit in the back in a maul but had 'gutsed' it out.

Lock Sam Whitelock had demonstrated the side's policy of being ready to go even if not named in the starting XV. He was totally professional and his late call-up had not been a problem for him.

Captain Kieran Read said defence showed the character of a side and New Zealand, in holding out the French through 19 phases at the start of the second half, had set a terrific standard for themselves.

"Tonight we really stuck at it, they really brought it to us in that area around the rucks and pick and goes. We've just got to build from that and it was certainly a great effort and it is awesome to put in that effort and get rewards at the end," he said.

When France did run the ball in an attempt to break through it had been a matter of maintaining discipline in the defence and not to give them an easy out by conceding a penalty.

Read wasn't concerned about winning his 50th Test, it was nice to have the win but the major thing had been the team and what it had achieved.

Backs coach Ian Foster said he was very pleased with the way wing Julian Savea and fullback Israel Dagg had carried on their growth from the first Test.

"Again, they were very sound under the high ball, I think we are getting very strong there and their kicking and clearing from the exit stuff was good. I think Julian ran hard, and so did Israel, and nearly broke through a couple of times," he said.

The back three would be proud of their catching, but also their chasing of kicks which had added to the pressure on France.