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McKenzie Relieved after shot clock drama in All Blacks' gritty win

McKenzie Relieved after shot clock drama in All Blacks' gritty win

All BlacksJuly 8, 2024

All Blacks first five-eighths Damian McKenzie's brush with the time clock when his crucial penalty goal attempt was timed out could have been worse in the All Blacks' 16-15 win over England in the first Steinlager Ultra Low Carb Test in Dunedin on Saturday.

McKenzie said the incident was completely on his shoulders, and he would have to improve his process while also ensuring he had quicker ball from the time the penalty was signalled.

It had been an anxious few moments when England mounted a last-gasp attempt only to be penalised for holding onto the ball at the breakdown.

"There was a lot of relief after we got that final penalty. It would have been disastrous if we'd lost."

McKenzie said that the referee told him to speed up his kicks in his last successful penalty goal. 

"I felt like I didn't take too long in the last kick. And then he did say something when I was in the back of my kick. I just went to go forward and it was too late. But I'm not pointing the finger at anyone."

McKenzie said he wasn't making any excuses, but it would help to have a shot clock at the ground.

He said the win, while not the prettiest, was a step in the right direction, and the All Blacks had much more to offer.

"It's been great to get in with a new group, new management, a few new players, and build those combinations we've had within the last 10 days.

"We're only going to get better from here and it's exciting."

Try-scoring wing Sevu Reece said it was special being back after 18 months out of Test action.

He said his try came from significant momentum produced by the forwards, and he was on the edge to finish off after McKenzie's crosskick to his win.

"It's always good to get a try."

It took the All Blacks time to find their feet in the first half, and they were guilty of trying to play too much.

"In the second half, when we started to stick to our game plan, we really opened it up, and towards the end, the boys stayed composed, and we closed the game pretty well.

"But those England boys just keep turning up. They're not going to go away. So come next week, we're going to have to go up another level and saying that, they're going to go up another level."

Reece's kick-chase game was the other factor in his performance of constantly applying pressure on England's catchers.

"Those are the little ways I get myself involved in the game. Not many like to chase those kicks. The opportunity was there to make more tackles, which I love.

"Finlay [Christie] was kicking them pretty well and I was chasing and they happened to fall right in front of me and it was right there, so I just took it."

There were issues with England's rush defence, and Reece said that in preparing for the second Test, the All Blacks will have to devise other strategies to circumvent that.

“First test of the year lungs felt it, body felt it but ready to hook into next week” 📈#ReplayInTheSheds @replay pic.twitter.com/pvahMgrUA8

— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 7, 2024

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