Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Cruden got the call on late quick tap

His coach and captain have backed him to the hilt, but Aaron Cruden says his decision to take a quick tap rather than a shot at goal as the test against England hung in the balance was down to information he received from Beauden Barrett and Victor Vito.

Cruden's actions were a surprise to many, including his captain, Richie McCaw, and the majority of England's defenders, but it turned out to be the right one. At 15-all with the minutes counting down, Cruden's dart helped put the All Blacks within touching distance of the line. First, Wyatt Crockett was held up centimetres away and then Conrad Smith dived over for the only try of the match.

Coach Steve Hansen said the test needed a piece of magic to break it open, and just like in their previous test against Ireland in Dublin, the All Blacks provided it at the death.

"I was expecting to kick the penalty as well and have the shot but I got a call from the outside and I saw that the England defence was expecting a goal kick as well and they were migrating to the posts as well," Cruden said. "I got the call from out wide and I trusted that call. It was Beauden and Victor letting me know the space was there if we wanted to use it. I had a quick look up asked the ref if we could play on and he said 'yes', went for the quick tap and we were off. We back what we are doing even in tight situations like that - even with five minutes to go and the game on the line.

"It was a change for us and I guess looking back on it we were backing structures right up to the final whistle and we were still confident of getting over the line if we were playing in the right end of the field that we could turn pressure into points."

Cruden played the entire match despite a limited build-up thanks to his broken thumb. While he seemed to lack a bit of sharpness in only his third match back, he is likely to be much better for it. "He'll get a lot of confidence from that game," Hansen said yesterday.


- NZ Herald

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