All Blacks look to nail Tri-Nations - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

All Blacks look to nail Tri-Nations

By Chris Foley 08/08/2010 01:59:05 PM Comments (0)

With the Bledisloe Cup secure the All Blacks have switched their focus to South Africa with the intent of taking the Tri-Nations rugby crown from the reigning champions in their own backyard.

The All Blacks' 20-10 win over Australia in Christchurch on Saturday left them one point shy of reclaiming the title they lost to the Springboks last year.

It also sent Australian coach Robbie Deans back to the drawing board after he slumped to a record ninth loss to the All Blacks.

The New Zealanders have two chances to pick up the extra point - against South Africa on August 21 and against the Wallabies in Sydney on September 11.

Nothing would give captain Richie McCaw more satisfaction than settling the score in the showdown with the Springboks before a sellout crowd of 90,000 at Soccer City Stadium in Soweto.

"You reassess," McCaw said as the All Blacks locked away the Bledisloe Cup, the symbol of trans-Tasman rivalry, for a seventh successive year.

"The Tri-Nations is still there to be won and it's going to be a big challenge playing in Johannesburg."

The All Blacks, who ran Australia and South Africa into the ground in the first four Tri-Nations Tests, were forced to switch to plan B as they held back a much improved Wallabies side with resolute defence on Saturday.

The match was played at a scintillating pace but after the All Blacks ran in two early tries to Mils Muliaina and Conrad Smith they spent most of the remainder of the game holding back a relentless wave of Wallabies attacks.

They were forced to make 115 tackles and succeeded with 110 of them while the Wallabies' inaccuracy was exposed as they made 75 tackles but missed 12.

"Last night was just a battle for 80 minutes and the best defensive side probably won the game," said All Blacks coach Henry said on Sunday.

"Our defence, structurally, was superb I thought. We probably didn't hit as hard in the tackles or win the contests as much as we have but the structure didn't give them opportunity and that was hugely pleasing."

The win left the All Blacks unbeaten so far this year after disposing of Ireland and Wales in the June Test series and beating South Africa and Australia twice in the Tri-Nations.

It has been an arduous workload and Henry and McCaw agreed the week off to recharge the batteries before heading to South Africa would be invaluable.

"Having a week off has come at a good time because the last five weeks have been pretty big really, especially for the guys who've played a lot of the time in those Tests," McCaw said.

Henry added some of the players "just need some space. I think we are going to have to be very careful when we get to South Africa that we don't overdo it."

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