RUGBY NEWS - The All Blacks set a "marker" with their convincing win over the Wallabies but they must keep improving if they want to retain the Bledisloe Cup, new coach Ian Foster said on Sunday.
The four-tries-to-one, 27-7 win in Auckland was much needed by New Zealand after they began the four-match series with a disappointing draw last week in Wellington, Foster's first game in charge.
But apart from the devastation wreaked by sensational rookie Caleb Clarke, it was not the performance Foster was looking for. The All Blacks were 10-7 up at the break before they turned on the style in the second period with three unanswered tries.
"That's the level we need to start at," Foster said.
"We've set a marker down of where we need to be as a team in terms of the mental side of the game and the approach to the physicality and speed of it.
"Was it a perfect performance, no it wasn't... We've just got to climb because it's a tough series. This is a better Wallabies team than I've seen for a while and they want to stay in the fight."
The All Blacks performance was a considerable improvement from their display in the 16-16 drawn first Test, while for the Wallabies it was a significant step backwards.
'Missed too many tackles'
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie had a direct message for his squad about their high error rate, particularly missing 40 tackles.
"Selection can sometimes fix that," he warned. "We turned the ball over a lot and we missed too many tackles. The individual tackles were poor and we got put under the heat from it.
"Right across the board we weren't as sharp as last week and gave them a lot of space and opportunity."
Much of the damage inflicted by the All Blacks came from 21-year-old Clarke, starting a Test for the first time after making his debut in 10-minute cameo off the bench last week.
His rampaging runs drew immediate comparisons with the great Jonah Lomu, rugby's first global superstar who retired in 2002 and died in 2015.
Although Clarke did not score himself, he set up a sensational try by Ardie Savea and was often instrumental in leading the All Blacks out of their danger zone and on to attack.
Clarke left the field to a standing ovation and Foster said he had delivered the level of performance he wanted from entire squad.
"He just wants the ball and wants to run hard and it's quite a good thing for us to give him the ball," Foster said.
"I think the whole team will be thrilled for him, to see him running around and doing what he loves doing and that's what we all need to be doing."
The final two games of the series will be played in Australia as part of the Tri-Nations, also involving Argentina. New Zealand have held the Bledisloe Cup since 2003.