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Rugby-Clarke performance highlights better balance in NZ backs

It's quite a good thing for us to give him the ball and let him run hard." Foster added that Beauden Barrett had "showed his class" in his decision making after missing last week's game with an Achilles injury and the 29-year-old was almost as devastating as Clarke with the ball in hand. A cleverly weighted kick by Barrett also set up the attacking scrum from which Aaron Smith scored his first half try.

Reuters | Updated: 18-10-2020 12:20 IST | Created: 18-10-2020 12:20 IST
Rugby-Clarke performance highlights better balance in NZ backs

New Zealand coach Ian Foster's decision to rejig his backline for their second Bledisloe Cup clash against Australia paid dividends on Sunday with the team producing a 27-7 victory at Eden Park to snatch the advantage in the four-match series.

Foster brought Caleb Clarke in for his first start on the left wing, was able to select a fit again Beauden Barrett at fullback and restored a more balanced and experienced midfield pairing in Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown. The result was far more attacking display from the side that drew 16-16 in the first game in Wellington, with Clarke's performance in particular threatening to sweep away news of the country's general election on Saturday.

Wearing the number 11 jersey that was immortalised by Jonah Lomu in the 1990s, Clarke's powerful running electrified the 46,049-strong crowd as he set up tries to Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea within the space of three second-half minutes. "He is an uncomplicated individual," Foster told reporters about the 21-year-old. "He has great self-awareness of who he is. He knows what he's good at on the rugby park and he just believes in it.

"He just wants the ball and to run hard. It's quite a good thing for us to give him the ball and let him run hard." Foster added that Beauden Barrett had "showed his class" in his decision making after missing last week's game with an Achilles injury and the 29-year-old was almost as devastating as Clarke with the ball in hand.

A cleverly weighted kick by Barrett also set up the attacking scrum from which Aaron Smith scored his first half try. "He brought a lot of confidence to the players and I think there is more to come from him," Foster added of the two-times World Player of the Year.

"He's a great influence on this team."


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