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All Blacks close in on 10th Tri-Nations crown

Posted Aug 09, 2010 by Weekend Round-Up

All Black Dan Carter

New Zealand's hard fought 20-10 victory over Australia on Saturday moved them a step closer to a 10th Tri-Nations title whilst also giving them their 13th successive Test win. The victory also saw the All Blacks retain the Bledisloe Cup for a seventh straight year.

The devastating All Blacks took an early lead through Mils Muliaina's converted try before Kurtley Beale's converted try levelled for the Wallabies. Conrad Smith restored New Zealand's lead with Dan Carter - closing in on Jonny Wilkinson's all time International points record - kicking a penalty to give the hosts a 17-10 half time advantage. Carter's second penalty with nine minutes remaining sealed the win. Australia's Matt Giteau kicked a penalty in between.

Meanwhile, World Champions South Africa have recalled Francois Steyn, JP Pietersen and Juan Smith for Thursday's home leg of the Tri-Nations Championship against New Zealand. They face the All Blacks at the 90,000-seat Soccer City - venue of the football World Cup final in July - before two Tests against Australia. Lock Andries Bekker and scrum-half Ruan Pienaar are both injured whilst lock Bakkies Botha is out through suspension.

Elsewhere, Wales are hoping to tie coach Warren Gatland to a contract extension which will run beyond the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Gatland, who won the Grand Slam in 2008, is in negotiations with the Welsh Rugby Union to extend his current four-year deal for an extra two years. Rumours have it that Gatland is a possible successor to All Blacks coach Graham Henry and Waikato Chiefs boss Ian Foster hence why WRU chief executive Roger Lewis is moving quickly to tie Gatland to a new deal.

England full-back Ben Foden has spoken out encouragingly in support of the nation's management, praising them for taking their share of the responsibility of several poor performances.

He told the BBC: "12 months ago, certain players were settling for six or seven out of 10 performances, which is not acceptable. Now, we're gelling as a team. Management are a lot more open. They've taken some responsibility but the players have as well. They've got to learn as coaches, and we've got to learn as players."

Endland's women, meanwhile, have been forced to make one change to the squad for the Women's Rugby World Cup which starts in Guildford on August 20th. Winger Michaela Staniford who plays for Wasps will replace centre Claire Allan on Richmond after the latter injured her knee in training. Staniford played at the 2006 World Cup.

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