Wynne Gray 's Opinion

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Test provides coaching nirvana

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The scores were tied after the first quarter before the All Blacks had three tries in a rush towards halftime.  Photo / Getty images
The scores were tied after the first quarter before the All Blacks had three tries in a rush towards halftime. Photo / Getty images

Jumble up the team, slap 50 points past Scotland and work on your next strategy.

If you are the All Black coaching group it would go something like: give the side plenty of credit for their performance, let them ease the aches and enjoy their travel day to Rome before giving them plenty to think about.

While the mix'n'match mob slapped Scotland to start their end-of-year tour at Murrayfield, it was a confusing performance - breathtaking at times, bumbling at others. There were glorious golden patches with six tries and lax moments when skills let them down or the team's cohesion went awry.

It was nirvana for the coaches; their revamped side had collected a win but there were enough mistakes to fill several whiteboards at the next team meeting. Nobody was exempt, not even captain Richie McCaw or deputy Daniel Carter. At some stage everyone lost their skills or compass on the greensward in Edinburgh.

Some like Carter, Cory Jane, Piri Weepu, Andrew Hore, Luke Romano and Victor Vito appeared light on the blemishes, but it was a strange match to decipher.

The scores were tied after the first quarter before the All Blacks had three tries in a rush towards halftime. Then it all went quiet as Adam Thomson went to the sinbin for his reckless footwork until a late surge and a wide winning margin.

Impressions at the ground about areas that needed attention were poor kickoff receptions, too many missed tackles and sloppy attention on around-the-corner drives.

Too many kicks went out on the full, Scotland made metres too easily with driving mauls and players should have kicked when they didn't.

Counterbalancing that were dazzling tries, which drew applause even from the crustiest of locals in the 67,000 crowd. Throughout there were episodes to drool about.

Carter's crosskick for Julian Savea and his wondrous finish, Jane's dazzling dances and work in the air, Weepu's hour of sweat and sleight of hand, some of the muscularity from Vito and grind from Hore.

Scotland? Well they had the best pre-match entertainment for some time with a squadron of bands, parades from their Olympic heroes, pyrotechnics and other hoopla.

They also gave it a decent crack. Not many sides score three tries against the All Blacks and this performance should have given them great heart, although that will be tested this week by the Springboks.

All Black coach Steve Hansen was happy enough.

There were concerns about Thomson and Israel Dagg who hurt his backside when he landed heavily.

All Blacks (Israel Dagg, Julian Savea 2, Cory Jane, Andrew Hore, Ben Smith tries; Dan Carter 3 pen 6 con)

Scotland (Tim Visser 2, Geoff Cross tries; Greig Laidlaw pen 2 con).

Halftime: 34-17.

New Zealand 51
Scotland 22

- NZ Herald

Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

NZ Herald senior rugby writer Wynne Gray has been covering the All Blacks for almost 25 years and has attended more than 230 All Blacks tests live for the Herald.

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