Henry delighted at the intensity of victory

“The All Blacks haven’t played a Test match of that intensity since… probably since last year’s Tri-Nations,” said Graham Henry an hour after his team beat South Africa 26-21 in the Tri-Nations on Saturday.

The match was a cracker, with the Boks tearing into their counterparts at the outset, but just running out of steam in the final ten minutes and letting the Kiwis score a quick brace of tries to steal the match.

Both Henry and Richie McCaw hinted that the All Blacks might have been a shade lucky with the outcome, but both revelled in the spirit shown by the team to bounce back from being 21-12 down with 20 mitnues to go.

“It’s great to get back to that quality of rugby again,” continued Henry.

“I think both teams found it difficult to adjust to the intensity to start with, and our fellows got better as the game went on, especially in the last 20 which is a sign of pride in the group, and of backbone, and I think the conditioning showed today with our guys coming through at the end, which was a pleasing aspect, although we have a lot of work to do still.”

Captain McCaw, sporting several facial abrasions as a result of the clash, believed his team had kept its cool despite some niggle, but in the end, had got lucky with the outcome.

“It was definitely a step up to what we have been playing for long time, we haven’t played a game at that sort of pace and physicality for a while,” he said.

“Last week the Boks showed they had a huge physical presence, and they threw it at us, but we stuck at it, and we knew the chances would come, despite their try just before half-time.

“But we realised that if we could just up the tempo, they might run out of legs, and we might get the opportunities.

“In the first twenty minutes we struggled to do much with the ball we got, we kept getting tackled behind the gain line and struggled to make any yardage.

“Eventually we got ourselves going, but we have to get that going right from the start because there will be some days where we don’t get out of jail.

“Today we did well to put the pressure on and get the points we needed, but sometimes you just can’t do that.”

Most of the media had this game billed as a Rugby World Cup dress rehearsal, but Henry both played down that and any idea that New Zealand had saved themselves for that final push to win the match.

“I don’t think it is a psychological blow ahead of the World Cup. It is a good start for us in the Tri-Nations,” he said.

“You can’t hold back deliberately againt teams like South Africa, not at this level.”

By Danny Stephens in Durban 365 Digital

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