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22 Aug 2009 18:02
New Zealand coach Graham Henry said the All Blacks’ ability to retain their composure under enormous pressure was the key difference in their thrilling 19-18 Tri-Nations win over Australia on Saturday.
The All Blacks trailed for almost the entire match before flyhalf Dan Carter kicked the matchwinning penalty two minutes from the end to seal victory at the Olympic stadium.
“I was just very proud of the character shown by the players tonight,” Henry told a news conference.
“It was just mental toughness, because we didn’t get the roll of the dice.
“The Australians are a very good side and they really stretched us tonight and there was just a feeling of pride after the game for what the guys achieved.
“Our guys showed a huge amount of intestinal fortitude. It just shows the guys have got the guts to hang in and keep going.”
Saturday’s win was New Zealand’s second over the Australians in this year’s Tri-Nations and ensured they retained the Bledisloe Cup for another year.
They remain in second place in the Tri-Nations behind the undefeated South Africans.
The All Blacks looked to be in trouble on Saturday after trailling 12-3 at halftime but kept the home side under constant pressure in the second term and scored the only try of the match through replacement centre Ma’a Nonu.
“You’ve just got to keep believing,” All Blacks captain Richie McCaw said.
“That was a hell of a Test match, we really had to dig deep for that.
There were times at the end when we let them back in but that’s what Test rugby is all about.”
Australia coach Robbie Deans also praised New Zealand’s courage but said the Wallabies only had themselves to blame for losing.
“It [victory] was there for us but we were just not quite there.
“The most obvious difference is experience.
“They’re masters at getting home and we’re working hard at acquiring that art.
“We’re making headway but we haven’t acquired it yet.” - Reuters
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