The All Blacks suffered their first defeat at the hands of the Irish in 111 years, losing 40-29 in Chicago last week in a match that ended the world champions’ record tier-one run of 18 consecutive test wins.
With coach Steve Hansen making 12 changes from the team that lost in Chicago, they responded on Saturday by scoring five tries in each half to thrash a limited Italian side 68-10.
“We needed to bounce back this week after a disappointing game by All Black standards last week,” stand-in captain Sam Cane said. “We all gelled and came together and kept the scoreboard ticking over throughout the 80 minutes, which was very pleasing.”
After being exposed on defence last week against Ireland, the All Blacks were rarely challenged by Italy at the Stadio Olympico, with the Azzurri’s game plan limited to aimless kicking that failed to put any pressure on the visitors.
Hansen gave little away about how the Italy game would shape selections for the Ireland rematch in Dublin next Saturday, though he praised the performance of man-of-the-match Aaron Cruden, who dictated the game from flyhalf.
“He hasn’t played a lot of rugby so we wanted him firstly to get more match time,” Hansen said.
“Secondly, (we wanted him) to do his core roles really well - his passing, kicking, running and organising – and get back into the flow of rugby again.
“As the game went on he got better and better.”
Original source: All Blacks get back their mojo, ready for Ireland rematch