Fiji give All Blacks areas to ‘work on’ ahead of second Test

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Foster said he was pleased with what had been a stern challenge from a side able to field many players who had experience in European rugby.

 

"They've come together and showed they're great athletes and chucked a lot at the game and had moments in that game that they put us under quite a bit of pressure.

 

"This was a Test match where we actually got tested, so you always learn stuff.

 

"Overall, I'm pleased with the way we came through that. It highlighted a few areas we're going to have to go and tidy up a little bit but I guess the composure to come back and win by nine tries against a team, I thought, chucked everything at us was pretty pleasing," he said.

 

Issues at the breakdown were part of that, the way the All Blacks ran with the ball, the speed of the cleaners, and the height Fiji were able to get over the ball.

 

"There was an area they targeted to slow everything down, it was a high penalty count in that position and, again, if we want to play at the tempo we want, we have to keep improving in that space," he said.

 

Foster said he didn't think the All Blacks imposed themselves enough in the first half, and they did not play with confidence as a result.

 

 

They were also guilty of kicking away the ball at times instead of running the ball and putting phases together, but they were important lessons. 

 

But in the second half, the bench had given the side the ability to play with more tempo, and the accuracy improved the further they went. That was borne out in replacement hooker Dane Coles' four-try haul.

 

"I enjoyed the Test match because it did expose a few areas and got us thinking about stuff and we muddled our way through a little bit but I think we found some good solutions," he said.

 

Captain Aaron Smith said the occasion of leading the team out in Dunedin, the haka, had been special but he was just as happy playing in what he called an 'awesome Test match'.

"It was a great result and really proud of the second half and our ability to take the game back, break their momentum and build and get some really good tries," he said.

 

Smith said when Fiji's penalty try got them to 31-23 behind, the message had been to win the next five minutes and keep calm, and he was pleased with how that had worked.

 

Assistant coach John Plumtree said Fiji put the All Blacks under pressure in the first half, especially with their lineout drive.

 

"It was the Test match we needed at this stage of the season," he said.

 

Issues at the breakdown had given them something to work on during the week.

 

At times, the All Blacks had lost their feet too quickly, while at others, they were slow to support, and they didn't get their body height right which resulted in penalties going against them.

 

Get tickets for the final Steinlager Series Test against Fiji at FMG Stadium Hamilton on Saturday 17 July HERE. 

 

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