All Blacks v Wales: Three things we learned

By Cameron McMillan

All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the final whistle. Photo / Brett Phibbs
All Blacks captain Kieran Read at the final whistle. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Three things we learned from the All Blacks 39-21 victory over Wales at Eden Park.

1. Wales need to be respected

They haven't beaten the All Blacks since 1953 but this Welsh side look as good as any to break the drought over the next fortnight. They defended with real purpose in the first half and led with 20 minutes to play. That should give them some confidence heading into the second test in Wellington. Whether the All Blacks will be as rusty in the capital is another question.

2. Things happen when Naholo's involved

He's only four tests into his career but so far from Waisake Naholo you have to take the sublime with the bad. Every time he gets the ball in hand it seems like something is going to happen with at least two or three needed to bring him down. But a knock-on and a defensive lapse to let in the Rhys Webb try proved he has some way to go in the test arena. If he can cut down the mistakes, and Julian Savea starts to find his form again, then the All Blacks will have two very potent weapons on the wings.

3. Cruden's creative kicking

The concern with the three possible No 10s to replace Dan Carter has been goalkicking. Cruden got the call-up last night and was 6/9 so he just gets a tick in that box. But it was his creative kicking around the field that stood out. Deft grubbers and cross-field kicks kept the Welsh on the back foot with one setting up a try for Julian Savea. They didn't always come off and may have been forced on him because of the staunch Welsh defence but he added a new element from the 10 jersey.

- NZ Herald

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