All Blacks near perfect, Thomson in trouble

By Gregor Paul in Edinburgh

There was satisfaction among the All Blacks that when they were good against Scotland they were really good, but reasonable concern they just weren't good in long enough phases.

The last 20 minutes of the first half were the game killer - the period in which the superior basic skills of the All Blacks came to the fore. A game and physical Scottish side had plenty to offer in the collisions but they could only watch in awe of their opponent's handling in that period.

The ability of the All Black forwards to take and give a pass, to offload out of contact and run good support lines made all the difference.

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"They [Scotland] came to the party and they played and they had that physical intent that we knew they would," said All Black coach Steve Hansen. "But at times, when our guys played well, they really played well and scored some good points."

The reason that the All Blacks only managed blasts of excellence rather than sustained quality was largely due to their desire to play too much rugby in their own territory.

That desire to run from deep and try to open the Scots from potentially unlikely places was overdone and largely ill-advised. Captain Richie McCaw was also a little dark about the team's work at kick-offs where they handed the Scots too much possession and territory.

"We were pretty frustrated with that to be honest and we didn't react well to where they were kicking the ball," said McCaw. "That's something for us to work on because traditionally when you score points that is when team's drop their guard so we need to sort that out.

"They scored a try just before half-time off our missed kick-off really. So that is where the pressure came from and then I thought at the start of the second half we played too much rugby in our own 30 and then we made a couple of mistakes and all of a sudden, down to 14 men, we were under more pressure again. Perhaps we were not smart in that part of the game."

And on the not smart front, the expectation is that Adam Thomson will be in front of a judicial inquiry in the near future. The All Blacks blindside took 10 minutes in the bin for putting his boot, seemingly deliberately but without obvious intent, malice or vigour, on the head of Alasdair Strokosh.

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson said he felt it probably should have been a red rather than yellow, while Hansen was reluctant to be that definitive.

"To be fair I haven't seen it other than what I saw on the replay and it looked to me like he [Thomson] got frustrated because someone was lying over the ball and he placed his foot on the guy's head," said Hansen. "He didn't stop - which is one good thing - but the rules say you can't so someone will be looking at it."

- Herald on Sunday

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