Gregor Paul: All Blacks sloppy against enterprising Scots

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The All Blacks will leave Edinburgh having failed to answer some key questions.

They got the job done in terms of producing the desired result but it was only half a performance. The enterprise and resistance of the Scots was a big factor in diluting the quality of the All Blacks' work, as was referee Wayne Barnes who really should be thanked for his contribution and then encouraged into a new career - one that doesn't afford him any authority.

The game never flowed and both sides clearly wanted to play football. The All Blacks have to take some responsibility for their failings as they were sloppy and disjointed into many areas.

They just couldn't get the ball off the Scots. The scrum was a mess. Barnes had no control and it was like watching an undercooked Pavlova - up it would struggle and then splat, down it would go, again and again.

It was hardly thrilling. The tragedy of the scrummaging saga was that it denied everyone of watching what was a remarkably even contest. It was, at times, exactly what test rugby should be - physical, enterprising, creative and dynamic.

Jamie Mackintosh didn't ever quite look settled and the All Blacks have work to do in that area. Mackintosh has work to do in that area. He talked earlier in the week of the dangers he faces as a taller loose-head and the engage looked like it was problematic.

He's a strong character, though, and he'll work on that side of his game and bounce back.

The whole forward pack will have to look at their work at the breakdown, too, where they couldn't get much out of the Scots and they couldn't stay clear of the wrath of Barnes.

The breakdown is going to be refereed with not the slightest ounce of sympathy for those who lose their feet in contact. It is ridiculous, it makes no sense but that is what the All Blacks are going to encounter and they need to be more wary of that interpretation when they get to Dublin.

The All Blacks were fortunate that the Scots were not able to use the possession they had. They had so much ball and they tried ever so hard to break the All Blacks out wide but they didn't have the accuracy and composure when they really needed it.

Mike Blair blew a great chance just before halftime when he took his eye off the ball and there were at least three occasions where the forwards got to the line with pick and drive work but lost the ball in the final drive.

Maybe if the Scots had been converting their pressure into points, it would have lifted the All Blacks into something more cohesive and structured.

Their tries were built on Scottish mistakes rather than their own creativity and in the final 20 minutes the All Blacks were loose. The kind of loose that will have had Graham Henry bristling in the box.

Cory Jane dropped the ball when he was in the clear and all but over the line. It was a shocker and he didn't exactly look suitably embarrassed at his error. Shortly after, Neemia Tialata danced like a Russian bear with no desire to go forward, or even sideways.

It was scrappy and the final 10 minutes stayed very much in that vein, with both teams pushing passes that weren't on and playing with no shape.

Getting sucked into such loose rugby was not the All Black plan. They need to be stronger in future games to avoid that scenario.

There were some positives to be taken from this game. Kieran Read looked at home at this level. His work-rate was high, his execution good and his desire obvious.

Richard Kahui took another giant step towards global stardom. His passing under pressure is superb and he tackled like he really wanted to hurt people.

The All Blacks might fairly wonder why on earth Scotland didn't play like they did this morning at the World Cup last year.

There was enterprise and passion to the Scots that was so painfully missing 14 months ago and the challenge they presented was one that tested Graham Henry's young and inexperienced side.

New Zealand didn't go onto much after they played Scotland last year. They will be determined to put that right in 2008.

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