Turnovers gave Deans' men victory - Henry

By Gregor Paul

Finding some more structure and playing in the opposition half have been highlighted as the two key areas where the All Blacks need to improve if they are to avoid losing three in a row this week.

That and holding on to the ball. In what was a frank and honest assessment of the All Black performance last night, coach Graham Henry said the final 30 minutes where the All Blacks kept coughing up the pill cost his side.

"That was disappointing," he said of the final 30 minutes. "We turned over a lot of ball and that cost us. We ran out of composure or maybe we ran out of steam.

"We need to find some more balance next week and some more structure. We played too much rugby in our own half. We did too many things that were 50-50 and probably not on. When we do kick, we need to chase well."

The mood of the All Black coaching panel suggests that they have accepted they might lose some games this year. That while they would rather be winning, they feel they are so lacking in experience that they have to accept that their side is vulnerable.

That's not to say they have gone soft on their players. Henry was critical of Sione Lauaki, or at least he was as critical as a coach is ever likely to be post match.

Lauaki had a difficult night with his hands - probably spilt more ball than anyone else and would be, according to Henry: "Pretty disappointed with the way he played. He'd been playing well coming into the game."

The big Waikato loose forward had to come on to relieve Daniel Braid, who was obviously struggling with the pace of the game. Braid has only had limited football in the last two months and by halftime, he was blowing heavily. His absence left the All Blacks short of presence on the ground and allowed Australia to dominate the collision and the breakdown where George Smith loved not having Richie McCaw around and Rocky Elsom used his power well around the fringes.

"I think a lot of the senior players played well," said Henry. "Guys like Mils Muliaina, Rodney, Ali Williams, Daniel Carter, guys who have played a lot at this level, stood up well.

"Some of the younger guys struggled with the pace. When the game is fast like that - and I think that was about as fast a game as you will see - they struggle. But they will be all the better for that experience and they will learn from that."

They will have to learn mighty fast, as the All Blacks simply can't afford to lose three in a row. In a year where they have lost their five-year unbeaten home run, it would be a major blow to see the 14-year unbeaten run at Eden Park broken, too.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is certainly aware of how determined the All Blacks will be to win this week. "I think we have made a rod for our own backs," said Deans. "I think we will see Richie McCaw come back and I'm surprised he didn't run out there tonight. They will be hurt and we will see the game go up another notch next week in Auckland."

In typical Deans fashion, there was no sign or admission to being in any way emotional about having masterminded the downfall of his homeland.

He said he was just delighted with the way his side had played.

He refused to say much about the replacement drama at halfback for the All Blacks. Andy Ellis came off early in the second half and 10 minutes later he was back on when Jimmy Cowan limped off. The return of Ellis was illegal but the All Blacks argued Cowan had come off with a blood injury.

"Jimmy had a cut lip," said Henry. It seemed a tenuous claim as Cowan returned with heavy strapping on his legs and Henry admitted he also had a medial ligament problem.

When asked if Cowan most likely had internal bleeding, Deans just laughed. He can afford to be laughing, though, life for Deans is pretty good and right now he will be seriously delighted he's not in Graham Henry's shoes.

- Herald on Sunday

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