All Blacks beat Canterbury and Wellington
August 9, 2013
New Zealand's Israel Dagg stretches the Canterbury defence during their clash in Lower Hutt © Getty Images
New Zealand stepped up their preparations for this year's Rugby Championship with victories over Wellington and Canterbury in their training matches in Lower Hutt on Friday.
Steve Hansen's side, who will kick off their defence of the southern hemisphere crown against Australia in Sydney on August 17, beat the Cantabrians 19-0 before edging out the Lions 12-7 in the specially arranged fixtures witnessed by 6,000 fans at the Hutt Recreation Ground.
The majority of the All Blacks' squad saw some game time with the Chiefs players in the group sitting out in the wake of their recent Super Rugby triumph while Ma'a Nonu and Wyatt Crockett missed the run out through injury.
In the first of three 40-minute matches, the New Zealand Herald reports that a Canterbury side featuring many of their ITM Cup squad including Luke Whitelock, Colin Slade and Willie Heinz, recorded a 24-0 victory over a Wellington XV featuring local club and development players.
In the All Blacks' first outing, Julian Savea, Dan Carter and Ben Smith all crossed for tries against the Cantabrians XV with Carter adding two conversions. The game saw Richie McCaw makehis first appearance in an All Blacks shirt this year with the flanker now poised to lead his country into their Sydney showdown next weekend.
The game was the All Blacks' first exposure to the new 'crouch, bind, set' scrum call that will be introduced for the Rugby Championship and McCaw opted for the set-piece with every penalty. The first scrum resulted in three resets as both sides struggled to adjust to the latest attempt to return the set-piece to a stable and fruitful platform and improve it as a spectacle.
A much-stronger Wellington side, captained by Victor Vito, were then edged out by the national side. Wellington No.9 Frae Wilson opened the scoring for the hosts before the All Blacks scored two tries of their own through scrum-half Aaron Smith and winger Charles Piutau that were converted by Beauden Barrett.
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