All Blacks number eight Ardie Savea was delighted after his side’s 42-19 win over Ireland at Eden Park on Saturday.
Ireland started the game well, putting New Zealand under sustained pressure in the early exchanges before the All Blacks exploded into life, scoring clinical tries en route to an impressive win.
“It’s satisfying walking off that pitch with the win, especially after past results last year,” he told reporters. “To come out and get a performance like that, it’s pretty special. We’ll celebrate tonight but we know it’s going to be even tougher next week. There were moments that game the Irish put us under immense pressure. We were getting smacked those moments and we need to see if we can nullify that.”
Savea expects Ireland to come back firing in the second Test in Dunedin, using the loss as motivation to get the series back on track.
“Like any team, you get smacked like that, you’re going to come back with some fire in your guts,” he said. “So we have to as well. There were areas in this game where we were pretty poor and we need to build that fire as well. It’s going to be interesting under the roof.”
Much like Savea, All Black Jordie Barrett expects a response from the Irish for next week’s clash after the versatile star had stints at 15 and 12 during the game.
“It’s awesome, it feels good, but it’s just a start,” Barrett said. “It’s only one test in a three-match series, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think there isn’t going to be a response this week. They’re No 2 or 3 in the world for a reason – they’ve got quality players, they’re not here for a holiday and they showed in periods of the second half and the first 20 they’re here to play.”
All Blacks prop George Bower had a solid outing at scrum time, and he said it was a key area they had to put pressure on to break down Ireland. The Crusaders star shared similar views on the physical battle and believed crossing the gain-line was crucial in his side’s success.
“They build a lot of their pace play off their scrum,” he said. “They love a good scrum to set their game up, and we knew we had to pressure them at the source. We did a job to hold down that scrum and contain their strong scrummagers. Big ups to our back five as well – when you have Sam Whitelock and Brodie [Retallick] pushing behind you, it’s hard to go back.
“We knew if we wanted to play our game we had to be physical, we had to win those collisions, win the gain-line. There were points we were passive, but a lot of the game we dominated in the ball-carry, were direct and it worked out for us.”