Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: ABs must turn out lights and move on

All Black Ma'a Nonu during the match against the Pumas. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Black Ma'a Nonu during the match against the Pumas. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Moving on. That consistent theme was delivered by rugby aficionados, officials and drive-by watchers who took in the All Blacks' latest win.

A late and lingering bust-up in the crowd drew more attention than a sweeping attack which delivered a try to Cory Jane.

Aaron Cruden's sideline conversion took the All Blacks out to a 21-5 victory, but for many who watched the modest offerings in the windblown Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday night, it said everything that there was more appeal in heading to the nearest gogglebox to take in the Wallabies.

Only the outlay for tickets probably kept the 30,000 crowd at the Cake Tin after halftime when the generators failed and there was a 12-minute delay as the lighting booted up once more.

On the repeat evidence of the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks have some way to go to convince themselves and spectators that they have improved.

Conditions were no help; even walking through Wellington streets had people bowling along like tumble weeds or hunched over like staples. But the weather was no shock. It had been predicted well in advance and there was all Saturday to make further amendments as the pattern continued.

However, fundamental skills and thinking disappeared from the All Blacks. Once again they were unable to sort out remedies until they had been to the changing rooms at the break. The All Blacks were far too ambitious with their ideas and way too loose with their performance.

"I think in the first half we tried to play way too much rugby for the conditions," coach Steve Hansen said.

Committed tackling from the resilient Pumas and injudicious work from the All Blacks was a recipe for home team troubles.

Argentina were, said Hansen, one of the best defensive sides in the world and would be a valued and awkward opponent in the new quadrangular series with the Wallabies and Springboks.

The speed of the All Blacks' attack, better angles and improved cleanout helped them edge away once the test resumed.

One probable try disappeared when Julio Farias Cabello was sinbinned for slapping down a pass as the hosts upped the tempo in the final quarter.

Skipper Richie McCaw agreed his side should have held possession more instead of pushing passes in the opening spell.

"It was tricky [wind] but we knew that before we went in and that was what was very frustrating."

Hansen emptied his bench gradually and got some real benefit from Liam Messam, Andrew Hore, Piri Weepu and Sam Whitelock.

There was also a six-minute test debut for Auckland prop Charlie Faumuina.

The better control in the second half came from the bench and men such as Weepu, whose kicking game and strong organisation brought the All Blacks home much stronger.

"They had the opportunity to see the first 40 minutes as well and had a good understanding of what was needed," Hansen said.

- NZ Herald

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