Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Chances can't be wasted - Smith

Ben Smith, one of the All Blacks' main attacking weapons, was reduced to a chasing role against Australia.

It is a job he does well - his perfectly placed kick, chase and pressure on Kurtley Beale early on resulted in a turnover and break by halfback Aaron Smith, which ultimately failed - but the All Blacks will want to get him involved more at Eden Park on Saturday.

The expected dry conditions will help - the constant drizzle on a poorly draining ANZ Stadium pitch contributed to a lot of mistakes from both teams last Saturday. However, yesterday Ben Smith reinforced the need to make the most of any chances the All Blacks create.

Aaron Smith's break is a good example because he elected to pass to hooker Dane Coles, who not only dropped the ball, but was also immediately swamped by four defenders, rather than loose forward Jerome Kaino, who was looming on his outside and had only Adam Ashley-Cooper to beat. As it turned out, it was not only a rare breach of the Wallabies' watertight defence, it was also a rare mistake by Coles and, to a lesser extent, Aaron Smith.

"You've just got to make sure you take most of the opportunities you get," Smith said. "We still had a few opportunities at the weekend we didn't take."

Smith will almost certainly get the nod over Israel Dagg at fullback this week. He played reasonably well, but in fact no All Black played particularly poorly - although prop Owen Franks' seven missed tackles is a concern. Coach Steve Hansen is likely to allow all of his men a chance to atone for a collectively flat performance in Sydney. Footage of Wyatt Crockett's yellow card act suggests the prop was unlucky to be considered offside by referee Jaco Peyper.

There is a need, too, for some continuity following the expected withdrawals through injury of Ma'a Nonu and Jerome Kaino, the All Blacks' scrambling defensive effort in playing a quarter of the match with 14 men a testament to their desire, even when some skills were lacking.

Smith said of playing with a man short: "Obviously it's pretty tough losing someone, but you just have to adapt and make sure you're problem solving out on the field and make sure you're connecting as a group."

- APNZ

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