Coach Steve Hansen has vowed to tighten the noose around the Wallabies for this week’s potentially deciding Bledisloe Cup Test after venting his frustration over the All Blacks’ “ugly” finish to their Sydney romp.
The world champion New Zealanders put the Wallabies to the sword in a point-a-minute opening half before losing focus to finish record 54-34 winners in the Rugby Championship opener.
The All Blacks feasted on the Australians’ feeble defence to run in eight tries, but allowed the Wallabies to score four late tries after leading 54-6 and with a record winning margin beckoning.
While it was New Zealand’s biggest score over Australia, eclipsing their 51-20 win in Auckland three years ago, Hansen demanded more from his players ahead of Saturday’s home Test in Dunedin, where they have only lost once to Australia in 12 encounters.
“The first 50 minutes was probably as good rugby as you will see, the last 30 minutes was probably some of the ugliest rugby,” Hansen told reporters after Saturday’s win.
“I think we got a little seduced by the scoreboard and went away from the fundamentals of what we wanted to do, but I think it’s about concentrating on what we did really well and that first 50 minutes was pretty special.”
Hansen said the defensive sloppiness will be addressed this week ahead of the Test at Dunedin’s vaunted ‘House of Pain’ with the All Blacks chasing a 15th straight year of holding on to the trans-Tasman Bledisloe Cup.
“We were all frustrated because we have come to expect a lot from these men,” Hansen said.
“Some of what we got in the last 30 minutes wasn’t where we wanted it to be. Everyone in the (coaches’) box was frustrated, and I would say everyone on the park was frustrated.
“We just didn’t arrest the error rate and it just kept coming at us.
“That is another learning curve for a group that is re-establishing itself. It will give us something to really focus on when we go to Dunedin. It won’t do us any harm.”
Captain Kieran Read expressed his satisfaction at the All Blacks’ onslaught in the first 50 minutes of the Sydney Test.
“Any time you can put that number of points and score that many tries against any international team, it feels pretty good,” Read said.
“It really just came about for us by doing the simple things well.
“We’ve got some talented players and if we can give them go-forward ball and look after the ball, things come off and the talent really shines.”
Replacement prop Wyatt Crockett suffered a head knock and was unlikely to feature in the Dunedin Test.
“Crockie has obviously got a concussion worry, we will see how he goes in testing,” Hansen said.
“But it would probably be pretty fair to say we would follow the same protocol as we do when anyone gets a head knock. We won’t be making him available, regardless.”
Hansen said it had not yet been decided who will replace Crockett, but Kane Hames was the likely candidate.
New Zealand scored eight tries to four and led 54-6 early in the second half.