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All Blacks can get better: Dagg

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 24/06/2017 Angelo Risso

All Blacks stalwart Israel Dagg has placed an already-wounded British and Irish Lions side on notice, saying his teammates are yet to hit their peak despite their powerful 30-15 victory over the tourists on Saturday.

Dagg was involved in two key incidents at Eden Park, holding up Elliot Daly to prevent the Lions from taking a second-minute lead before throwing the pass Codie Taylor collected on his bootlaces for the All Blacks' first try.

Over 80 minutes, the Crusader managed an impressive 49 running metres, beat five defenders and booted three trademark long kicks.

The 29-year-old utility back was chuffed with the All Blacks' display against a formidable opponent, having started and finished the stronger side but come under the pump for stints either side of half-time.

But there were further heights to be scaled, he said, with the world champions relying upon ball-carrying steel over panache for victory.

"When we think we've made it, that's when we're going to get tripped up - they've got another week together and they're going to get better, so we've got to keep working," the 62-Test veteran told reporters.

"They played extremely well and scored some great tries, so it was a tough match but I thought (our) bench came on and provided that impact."

Dagg and his back-three fellows came under aerial bombardment from box-kicking specialist Conor Murray, as the Irish halfback lofted 11 kicks into the path of Dagg, Rieko Ioane, Ben Smith and, later, Beauden Barrett.

Apart from three dropped balls from Smith, who departed early with concussion, the side had handled Murray's kicking game with aplomb.

More of the same would be required in that department for next weekend's second Test in Wellington, where New Zealand can wrap up the series.

However they may be forced to do so without vice-captain Smith - which would give Dagg an opportunity to return to his preferred fullback role.

"They kicked well and (we) expected it fully, for them to put up contestable kicks - for us outside backs, I thought we did pretty well," he said.

"If we don't catch them, they punish us - you saw the good tries they scored."

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