Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Dane Coles makes up for 'terrible' test against Pumas

Dane Coles's eye-catching performance in providing three try assists for the All Blacks against the Springboks was the result of his determination to put things right after what he described as his "terrible" test against Argentina.

"Last week I was terrible, to be honest. I didn't do the jersey justice and I wanted a big game today," the hooker said after his team's 41-13 victory over the Boks at AMI Stadium. "I thought I hopefully made up for that. I just did my roles, nailed my lineouts and made my tackles. It's just good to take pride in your performance after not being up to standard last week."

Coles, lurking with dangerous intent in the outside channels, provided the last pass for Israel Dagg's try, a no-look flick, and then combined with Julian Savea to put the big wing over for his first try against the South Africans. But perhaps his best of an evening in which the All Blacks again left the opposition in their wake was his 20m pass to Sam Whitelock in the second half which put the lock over in the corner.

Combine all that with his performance in an impressive set piece, and Coles certainly made up for his slightly off night at Waikato Stadium the week before.

"We looked at a few of their trends and I suppose we targeted that blind side," Coles said of his passing game against the Boks. "We'd been practising it all week. We probably didn't nail one all week but it came off tonight, so I was lucky to be in the right place in the right time."

After battling through a painful rib injury with the Hurricanes this season, Coles could be a candidate for a rest in either Buenos Aires, where the All Blacks play the Pumas in a fortnight, or Durban, where they play the Boks a week later. He has an able deputy in Codie Taylor, but isn't keen on giving up his No2 jersey.

"I want to keep playing," he said. "The body is good now, the ribs are back to normal. To be honest, it's the best place to be, putting on the black jersey. Hopefully I'm on that bird and get another chance to play."

Skipper Kieran Read said Coles provided important roles for the team in terms of his leadership and running game. "He's one of the leaders," Read said. "It's about turning up. When you put on an All Black jersey you're expected to rise to the occasion and he does that. He did really well tonight and the boys look to him for a bit of a spark - he's that type of guy."

Lock Luke Romano, who has made an impact off the reserves bench in each of his last two appearances, confirmed the All Blacks had been working hard on their set piece. Argentina disrupted the lineout at Waikato Stadium, but the All Blacks lost only one against the Boks, and their scrum was again rock solid.

"You launch a lot of moves off that and obviously with the backline we've got, if you give them good ball, you can see what they can do with the likes of Beaudy [Barrett] and Jules [Savea]," Romano said.

"We work really hard on it, and obviously it's good to see the hard work is paying off."

Coach Steve Hansen said: "The set piece I think has been outstanding all season. The lineout has been operating at a really high level. Yes we lost a couple against Argentina and we lost one tonight with an over-throw but outside of that it's been probably the leading lineout in the competition."

- NZ Herald

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