Sunday, November 23, 2008

Henry and McCaw laud `huge` second half,18259,3551_4536597,00.html

Graham Henry and Richie McCaw both pointed to the second half as the key in their victory over Wales on Saturday. The All Blacks scored 23 unanswered points in a devastating second-half display, having gone into the break 9-6 behind and coming off second-best for long periods of the first half.

"I thought they had a huge second half, well led by Richie [McCaw] and the leaders, probably the best half of rugby we have played all year," said Henry. "It was a good test match, a highly competitive Welsh side playing good rugby stretched us a lot and they will be disappointed with the result, but they should be proud of their advancement in the game. I think they played well and I think they are a very good side. We are really pleased to have such a win. It takes time. It shows a lot of heart and character that they can hang in there under pressure and then come through in the latter part of the game. That's been a mark of this side all year that they have been under pressure and come through and won games. We scored 23 points in the second half and that is huge."

McCaw is now looking forward to getting down to Twickenham next week, before heading off on a deserved six-week break before pre-season starts in Christchurch. England, having lost 42-6 at home to South Africa on Saturday, are now seemingly staring down both barrels at a team at the top of its game.

"We came over here and knew that we had four tests over here," a confident McCaw said after the game. "It was never going to be easy. But if we do it right next week, get over this game, then there is nothing better than playing at Twickenham. We came over here to play four good tests and we are three-quarters of the way through. We will get over tonight, there will be some sore bodies, but we will look forward to England. It is always a tough one in Twickenham."

The team is yet to concede a try in international matches - indeed, they have conceded only 21 points in the three matches so far (not counting Munster), an average of seven per game. However, they have scored nearly 28 a game. Again, after a tight start, it was the second half where the team pulled through, after Wales had led at the break.

"We have been in those situations before this year," McCaw said. "We just had to keep our composure and perhaps there were times when we lost it a little bit in the first half. But we regrouped at half-time and there was a lot to play for, and occasions like this, in a stadium like this, are just awesome. We expected Wales' passionate start. They had us a little bit rattled just before half-time. But the composure held in the second half and we got on top of the game."

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