Sean Fitzpatrick: Henry's approach pays dividends

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What a wonderful test and what a fine win by Graham Henry's All Blacks.

Australia played well and the main feature was how the new rules and the way the game is structured these days means the side attacking has to expend so much effort.

You have to work so hard when you have the ball just to retain possession and you could see it telling on the Australians in the second half.

It used to be that people said defending and tackling took it out of you, and so it does. But you'd have to say on the evidence of that match that the game has changed again and the attacking side bears the brunt of physical expenditure.

The other thing was the way the All Blacks approached this match. There was an interview with Robbie Deans where he said all he wanted was for his guys to connect with each other.

Well, it was the All Blacks who did that. They defended superbly and stuck together to the end. Think back six or seven months to the uncertainty and newness of this team and you can see what a grand job they have done.

They have not always had an easy time of it in this competition. Losing to Australia and South Africa, then winning in Cape Town and Brisbane isn't easy.

Richie McCaw had a fine day, Rodney So'oialo worked superbly and Jerome Kaino had a great time on defence.

But what about the quality of the changes made? Jimmy Cowan was playing well but was subbed off for Piri Weepu who did exceptionally well.

It was a good call but even better was the introduction of Stephen Donald for Ma'a Nonu. Stirling Mortlock had got on top of Nonu a little bit but, even more than that, Donald's introduction took pressure off Carter. Donald was heavily involved in the decisive try to Weepu.

I am very happy with where the All Blacks are at. I have always been a Henry man and liked what I saw before the match - he had a twinkle in his eye.

If we are honest, he has had to do this job of winning the Tri Nations and retaining the Bledisloe Cup with a real lack of depth; without the depth of quality players we have been used to in the past.

Last night's was a performance you'd want from any All Black team. They can head off to the UK at the end of the Southern Hemisphere season with confidence, able to try out new people.

It means we don't have to go into this tour arguing mightily about who was right and who was wrong re coaching staff and personalities and styles and all the rest of it. They can now just get on with the job of coaching and developing and bringing All Black rugby on again.

And who might be on that tour? Difficult to know but I saw two players in this weekend's Air NZ Cup who were good prospects - Wellington hooker Dean Coles and Southland prop Jamie Mackintosh.

But, for now, there is the pleasure of seeing a good old-fashioned test match which was well won.

- Herald on Sunday

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