Rugby | 'All Blacks' pace, bench wore us down'

Auckland – The intense pace of the All Blacks game and the impact of their bench were the key factors in the 39-21 victory over Wales on Saturday, according to the visitors’ coach Warren Gatland.

The World Cup winners scored three unanswered tries in the final 20 minutes as they fought back from an 18-15 halftime deficit at Eden Park.

Both sides attempted to play high-tempo rugby but the speed at which the All Blacks played eventually caught up with the visitors.

“It was definitely quicker,” Wales captain Sam Warburton told reporters. “Chatting with the guys they felt pretty good, but once we hit that 65-minute mark that’s when you go into that slightly different territory.

“You look at the running metres and we probably wouldn’t run that much in the Six Nations.”

Warburton said the intensity of the match had drained his team’s energy in the final quarter.

“You can’t train at that high intensity during the week otherwise you won’t be able to last for the game,” he said.

“You have to go through those games and experience that to get better. I think we will.”

The All Blacks bench made a major contribution to the outcome with the dynamic Patrick Tuipulotu and Ardie Savea providing impressive energy that lifted their side.

“It’s not a bad bench is it?,” Wales coach Warren Gatland said.

“They had a bit of firepower to come on. Somebody like Beauden Barrett. And TJ Perenara, he wasn’t even good enough to make the squad but he’s not bad at all at nine.”

Gatland added he felt his side would only get better with the second test next week in Wellington, though they would need to check on the fitness of winger George North, who suffered a hamstring injury.

“There were a lot of positives,” Gatland said. “We had to be brave and bold and we did that and played some rugby.

“The couple of tries we scored were outstanding. We could have scored a couple more … but we learned a lot from today and we will be better for it.”

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