All Blacks expecting full scale Ireland response

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Although they claimed an encouraging 42-19 win in the first Test at Eden Park on Saturday, the All Blacks were anticipating a full-scale Ireland response under the roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

 

Smith felt all the talk of pressure and intent before the Auckland game was settled, in part, by their performance, but there was still plenty to improve on.

 

"It was good to get a grasp of Test rugby again, and be able to respond at certain times. We were under pressure at a lot, and our defence really stood up. We were able to stop them at periods, but if you let good teams like Ireland into your 22m too many times, they are going to score points.

 

"We've got to fix that up," he said.

 

Smith said he was a little rusty starting the game with a few wild passes, some average kicks in the first 15 minutes, and a couple of mistakes. He felt he built into the game and was happy with where the All Blacks went with their attack, being able to finish off some opportunities.

 

"It was a big occasion and they're the games you want to be part of. It was very tough and very fast and I really enjoyed that but the lungs are feeling it. I haven't played in a while so I'm happy my lungs held out and my groin too," he said.

 

While the All Blacks were more effective in their attack after the first 20 minutes, Smith said he was still getting untidy ball, and Ireland had gone hard at the breakdown.

Ireland disrupted New Zealand's ball when they didn't get their ball placement right, or they were late on their cleans, so that would be at the front of their minds in Dunedin.

 

"When we can get things right and nail the little things our attack can look pretty good, but we're under no illusions what's coming this weekend. The most positive thing is it's going to be a thriller under the roof with the dry ball," he said.

 

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said with the sellout crowd of 48195 in Auckland and more sellouts ahead in Dunedin and Wellington, it was enjoyable to play in packed houses like that at home.

 

"It's all part of us reconnecting with our communities, so it's a great opportunity for us here," he said.

 

Foster knows Ireland will respond to the Auckland loss. They were a quality side, and there were parts of the game where they worried the All Blacks.

 

"It'll be gloves back on later in the week and we'll go at each other again. We had to be good to beat them and we're going to have to be good to beat them again," he said.

 

The likeable features of the All Blacks' play in Auckland were the small things.

 

"We started well, we played with good intentions and didn't over-think the game," he said.

 

"We did some good stuff, we showed a lot of attitude defensively, and we showed a lot of attitude in our work rate around the park. But, again, that is yesterday's news now isn't it?

 

"We'll pull it apart, pick the good stuff out. We've got to make sure we grow," he said.

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