Bower enjoys an unexpected experience in opening Test

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Having scrum guru Mike Cron called up to fill in for Covid-struck scrum coach Greg Feek blew Bower away.

 

"That was my first time being coached by Mike. He only spoke for a minute at our captain's run and I was really blown away. He's an awesome scrum coach, and I'm looking forward to working with him next week if Feekie is out," he said.

 

Bower said it wasn't so much what Cron said but the aura around him and his reputation for developing some of the world's best props.

 

The Eden Park game had been a special performance that set the scene for the series.

 

"They build a lot of their phase play off their scrums, and they love a good scrum to set their game up, so we knew we had to pressure them there at that source, and I believe we did that job to hold down that scrum and contain their strong scrummagers.

 

"A big ups to our back five as well. When you have Sam Whitelock and Brodie [Retallick] pushing behind you it's hard to go back with them," he said.

 

Under pressure so often on their goal-line, Bower said the attitude in those circumstances was almost a personal challenge of how much you wanted to defend the line and deny them tries. They had dug deep, and while conceding penalties, they held firm for long periods.

Second five-eighths Quinn Tupaea said the backs were delighted to be able to play the way they did after the forwards created a platform for them.

 

The lessons from Dublin's loss last year, and the physical intent Ireland showed early in that game, were not forgotten with the result that the All Blacks were happy with their response on Saturday.

 

There had been concentration on the first quarter and how Ireland would play, but the All Blacks weathered the storm and knew if they could stay in the game and keep with Ireland, there would be a switch, and that happened.

 

With two Tests left in the series the All Blacks could not get ahead of themselves, but they felt Saturday had provided them with a big step towards taking the series, especially after the Dublin loss.

 

"That hurt the fellows a lot and to get them here at Eden Park is a massive step for us," he said.

 

Tupaea said before he scored his try, on a kick through by first five-eighths Beauden Barrett, he had seen the Irish were all forward, and they didn't have cover in behind.

 

"The ball was skidding along the ground, it was pretty dewy out there and I didn't want to spill it one metre out from the line so I was pretty careful with it," he said.

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