All Blacks one step closer to sealing Fortinet Rugby Championship

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Nor was playing South Africa in the historic 100th Test between the sides that could seal the Championship in Townsville next weekend. They would start thinking about that on Sunday, coach Ian Foster said.

That's all most media wanted to talk about. But the All Blacks were more concerned about celebrating their effort in beating an improved Argentina side with a less experienced New Zealand team sent out to do a job for what many had felt was a gamble.

Foster said he was delighted with the win, especially having gone into the game with several new combinations. But with the way they had prepared over the last 10 days, he was confident with the players chosen.

The execution they achieved in the first half had been pleasing while, in the second half, they paid the price for missing a few opportunities, and Argentina had grown through that.

"While we lost a lot of momentum, a lot of that was due to them. I thought they came back really, really well and that 10-minute spell towards the end of the game showed great tenacity from our guys and will hold us in good stead for what's to come," he said.

The ability shown was not surprising because the side had trained well, he said.

"The strategy going into this game has put us in a pretty good place going into the next two weeks," he said.

The form shown by the younger players like Samisoni Taukei'aho, Tupou Vaa'i, Hoskins Sotutu and Ethan Blackadder revealed they were learning about the importance of preparation.

The quest was for consistency of performance regardless of who was on the field. And because of the number of opportunities missed, there was also a realisation that more ruthlessness was required.

"Overall, I think it was good for our newer players to feel that pressure and that tension, and I thought that fourth quarter will be gold for us because you realise you never have anyone beaten at Test level. They are always going to come back at you.

"And if you don't finish them off when you've got a chance you're in for a bunfight, and we had our hands full here," he said.

With so much attention pre-Test focused on Damian McKenzie's starting role at first five-eighths, Foster said he liked the composure McKenzie showed.

"I thought he dealt with the challenge well. If anything, he was probably guilty of underplaying his hand, like he had more to offer so I was quite excited about his progress," he said.

Blackadder had shown in the Test what he showed every training run.

"He gives everything, he puts his body on the line, he trains hard and I was just delighted for him that he was able to keep duplicating what he does from Sunday to Friday. He's a top man, he gives you everything, wears his heart on his sleeve but he loves being in that black jersey and I think we saw that tonight," he said.

Captain Ardie Savea said it was good to see Sotutu and Blackadder add to the competition in the loose forward roles.

Savea said he was delighted with the side's scrummaging, especially the way they dominated the usually strong Argentine scrum when under goal-line pressure.

"It saved us a little bit when we had our backs against the wall," he said.

His message during the tough moments, when Argentina applied pressure, was to stay calm and concentrate on next-moment focus. They knew they were giving silly penalties away. 

"It's good for us being able to have our backs against the wall and deal with that pressure. It's something that we can grow," he said.


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