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Italy packed a surprise for All Blacks

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Sportal.co.nz     18 Nov 2012     Getty Images

"It took a long time to wear them down. I'm not sure we expected that," he told SKY Sports.

But it had been impressive for some of the younger players to experience that and to come through with the goods because it was beneficial for them to be exposed to the hard work it sometimes takes to win Test matches, he said.

"Sometimes it is hard waiting a couple of weeks to play a Test, you're really on edge. It took 60 minutes to wear them down but they're a quality side, they've come a long way in the last few years," he said.

"Attack wise the way they mixed it up was great. That's as good as any side I've played this year. It's going to be great to see if they can keep improving like that."

Captain Kieran Read said it had not been an easy task but the wind had come down do applying pressure and it was fitness and some skill that told in the end.

"It's a great credit to the way they have come on in the last few years, it was a really hard game.

"Sometimes it takes 70-80 minutes to get the result," he said.

Being on the back of a powerful scrum had also been good while the lineout work of the side had been outstanding, he said.

Coach Steve Hansen said the Italians had played well but what he liked about the All Blacks was their composure and ability to stay connected in the face of pressure and they had finished the game well.

"You have to take your hat off to them [Italy], they tried to play rugby and at times they played well and put us under pressure," he said.

At halftime the message had been on stopping having two men on one player.

"It wasn't until we got one bullet, one man that we tidied it up. The halfbacks were looked after better."

And winning the collisions with the ball in hand, allowed the side to set up a much better attacking platform.

"The attitude of the two sides was great. They wanted to scrum and when you get two sides that want to scrum the game becomes easy," he said.

Italy's captain Sergio Parisse said for the first 40 minutes things had been good for his side, they moved the ball and they were well in the match. But in the second half the All Blacks were able to win quick ball and three tries in the final quarter made all the difference.

"I felt we had the opportunity to put them under pressure. But the midfield missed tackles in the last 15 minutes and that was tough. We improved from playing Tonga and there was better rugby for us tonight with a lot of positives and we look forward to playing Australia next week," he said.