Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall: Failure to adjust poser for Wales

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Wales coach Warren Gatland should be concerned at his team's failure to adjust. photo / Getty
Wales coach Warren Gatland should be concerned at his team's failure to adjust. photo / Getty

This was another quality test, which was evenly contested, but Wales coach Warren Gatland should be concerned at his team's failure to adjust when the All Blacks crank up the tempo.

Last weekend at Eden Park they were blown away in the last quarter. On Saturday in Wellington it was a period of 10-12 minutes which did the damage. The All Blacks wound up the wheel, put some points on and took the test away from Wales. Gatland should be concerned by that because it's happened twice in a fortnight where they drift in focus and then suddenly the test has got away from them.

For the rest of the game they are competitive, winning possession, not falling off one-on-one tackles, following a balanced game plan. They are worthy and good opponents but they are losing their mojo for short periods and it's costing them.

It's good the All Blacks are getting challenged. They are having to think on attack.

Wales' line speed and physicality is a mental test which is good because there are different faces in different positions for the All Blacks. Are they firing on all cylinders? No. There is work to be done but it's good they're in a contest. That creates problems but is better than cantering home by 50 points.

What now? The selectors and coaches probably expected things to be running more smoothly at this stage. It's possible that the challenge Wales are providing has changed their thought process regarding the third test in Dunedin.

If they had comfortably won the first two tests they might have looked to different options in the match-day 23. Lima Sopoaga may have come - regardless of Aaron Cruden's injury - on to his home ground where he is comfortable kicking for goal. He probably deserves a chance after his form in Super Rugby and in his only test against the Boks last year.

Elliot Dixon, another Highlander, could add something to the pack, with teammate Liam Squire on the bench, perhaps.

Have they seen enough from Ardie Savea to suggest that he could start? I still believe Sam Cane as the incumbent deserves that starting No 7 role, but I don't think they would lose momentum by starting Savea. He's capable of muscling up and being dominant physically at this level, as we have seen.

Do they give Aaron Smith a rest? TJ Perenara was excellent off the bench, and does Tawera Kerr-Barlow enter the equation now he has recovered from his hand injury? I would imagine they would be reluctant to rest Smith, even though he probably deserves one.

- NZ Herald

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Justin Marshall is a former All Blacks halfback and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Justin Marshall played 81 test matches for the All Blacks, including four as captain. The halfback made his debut in 1995 against France and ended his career 10 years later with a series sweep over the British and Irish Lions. He won five Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders, playing 105 games for the franchise. He commentates for Sky Television.

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