Eden Park victory sets marker for All Blacks

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Coach Ian Foster said the 27-7 win at Eden Park on Sunday set a marker for the side, especially in terms of the mental side of the game.


There were still aspects of the game that needed to improve. They would be working on them because they were Australia-bound and would have to be better.


"We've got to climb because it's a tough series and this is a better Wallabies team than I have seen for a little while and they want to stay in the fight, so we had to fight for 80 minutes," he said.


Man of the match, on his starting debut, wing Caleb Clarke was an uncomplicated individual, Foster said.


"He's got great self-awareness of who he is. He knows what he's good at on a rugby park and he believes in it. He just wants the ball and to run hard.


"I think the whole team will be thrilled for him doing what he loves doing," he said.

Fullback Beauden Barrett had shown his class, he said.


"He's a great decision-maker, and he's a great influence on this team. I thought he played he played the role that we gave him at 15 pretty clearly. He brought a lot of confidence to the players and again, I think there's more to come from him too," he said.


Foster added that replacement back Peter Umaga-Jensen had reacted well, despite being called back to the camp at short notice, and showed he didn't look out of place in the All Blacks' midfield.


Prop Alex Hodgman had also made an impact off the bench, especially when having to come on early after Joe Moody was injured. His effort had been exciting.


"He didn't shirk anything. He got involved in the attack and defence side of the game. Sometimes first Tests can run past you pretty quickly, but he should be immensely proud of what he did," he said.


Captain Sam Cane said he was proud of the result and added that the coaches and leaders had been exceptional in the week of preparation.


"We went into the game with a clear plan, and I thought a lot of boys stepped up tonight and responded to that," he said.

Cane said he felt the forwards had initiated more of the contact than in the first Test when they had been waiting.


Wallabies coach Dave Rennie's first reaction to the difference between the first two Tests had been the "tackle percentage" at Eden Park.


"Last week, we tackled well and made minimal mistakes. Today we turned the ball over a lot and then missed too many tackles, and individual tackling was poor, and we got put under the heat from it.


"They scored a couple of quick tries, and then we had a couple of opportunities that we couldn't finish. You can't gift the All Blacks that much ball. They have too many athletes who can hurt you, and that is what we saw today.


"I think right across the board we weren't as sharp as last week and gave them a lot of space and opportunity.


"We didn't want to give them time and space, so we wanted things to be competitive or contestable and find space behind them as we did last week. Some of our options weren't great. You've got Caleb Clarke bringing the ball back, and he was a handful," he said.


"You have got to keep putting the All Blacks under pressure. They are a very fit side. They've got explosive athletes. They can defend for long passages and hurt you when you turn it over, so we've got to be able to apply pressure for longer. They reefed a bit of ball out of our hands three or four times today so a few soft turnovers.


"I am pretty confident that in two weeks we are going to be a better side. We have got to be better.


"The All Blacks are a good side. They don't lose many Tests anywhere. They are going to lose here [Eden Park] one day, and we were hoping it was this Sunday," he said.


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