Hansen hails mental strength of All Blacks
The performance may not have pleased All Blacks coach Steve Hansen but his team’s character left him a happy man after they left it late to down a gallant Ireland in Christchurch on Saturday night.
A Daniel Carter drop goal with seconds left handed the All Blacks a 22-19 triumph that they barely deserved at a bitterly cold Addington stadium.
After a comprehensive 32-point win a week earlier, they produced a bumbling display which saw them escape with their unbeaten record against Ireland only just intact.
“We certainly didn’t play as well as we would have liked but we showed some really special character to hang in to win the game,” he said.
Hansen said the team’s big players stepped up in the closing stages to pull the game out of the fire.
“We had a plan everyone did their job under extreme pressure.
“It’s a game were probably shouldn’t have won. Plenty of young men and some older men have been reminded about what Test rugby is about,” he said.
Tries to halfbacks Conor Murray and Aaron Smith and a conversion and four penalties apiece to Jonathan Sexton and Carter esnured the match came down the the wire.
The All Blacks found a determined Irish defence difficult to break down as the tourists made 138 tackles, missing just seven in the match and earning Hansen’s admiration.
“They played with a lot of conviction, a lot of energy, a lot of urgency.”
Ireland fed off the home side’s frustration which led to the All Blacks being hit with 11 penalties which Hansen attributed to how they had prepared for the match.
“You just don’t give away stupid penalties like we did tonight if you’re in the right zone.”
Hansen reserved special mention for Chiefs flanker Sam Cane who made several strong runs after coming on for an injured Kieran Read at halftime.
The 20-year-old says he feared his Test debut would not end on a winning note until Carter’s late heroics.
“I was on the bottom of a ruck and looked up and saw that fly over – it was a bit of relief, I was stoked.”© AAP 2013
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