All Blacks set sights on unbeaten campaign

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Coach Ian Foster said if teams won five games in the Six Nations it was regarded as a Grand Slam, and Saturday's second game with South Africa on the Gold Coast offered a Grand Slam chance for the All Blacks.

"For this group to put themselves in that position is a massive credit to [captain] Ardie [Savea] and the men for the way they have been utilised, and the way they are gelling together and working hard.

"We know to achieve what we want to achieve next week and to get that Grand Slam we are going to have to lift up a couple of cogs," he said.

"We are making strides in the physical side of the game, and we are making some strides in our ability to deal with set-piece pressure and how we go about it.

"Clearly, we're not the finished product. We know that. But, I love the way we stayed in the fight, we problem-solved, and we muscled up, and we made that game a massive contest and an arm-wrestle type game.

"The performance wasn't really what we wanted. We were forced into a lot of errors from their pressure, and that was a game we expected to come up against, so hats off to them.

"I loved our attitude. When things weren't going well we wanted to play and we showed a determination to keep fighting and got there in the end," he said.

There were some messages for the All Blacks to absorb, he said.

Foster said they appreciated the significance of the game, and that was for several reasons; the 100th Test, the Championship, the Freedom Cup, the rivalry between the sides, and the respect the All Blacks had for them.

New Zealand had enjoyed an edge over South Africa recently, but the margin, once again, was fine.

"Hats off to Jordie [Barrett] for that last kick, it was a tough kick," he said.

The bench had come on and performed, and Quinn Tupaea did well to secure the penalty at the turnover to set up Barrett's winning kick.

Barrett, in the first half, was good under the high ball, Foster said.

In the second half, South Africa had shortened their high kicks making it a bit of a jungle in the landing area making it hard to get bodies under the ball, so they would look at how they could do that better, Foster said.

The All Blacks talked before the game about pressure, being strangled and the way South Africa would want to play.

"It's one thing to dismiss it as boring which a lot of people do, but it is ruthless and clinical, and they are very good at it and we ran out of time in these situations and that put our skill-set under pressure, so there is a real learning curve for us in that space," he said.

Timing of passes was astray due to the pressure imposed on the backs. But, it was good to learn those lessons and to get the win, he said.

"We're really excited by that, we didn't fold, we didn't get too flustered, we kept playing and overall we're happy and can't wait for next week now," he said.

Savea said he was relieved and proud of his side for their attitude towards getting the game.

"It's always a massive clash and my body is feeling it now," he said.

Savea said the All Blacks had been forced into errors early in their continuity play with the ball, and they needed to hold their depth and be better in their skill set so they could build phases and keep the ball in play.

There were great lessons from the type of game they played, and it was something he would grow from both as a player and leader.


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