The All Blacks won't want to admit this, but they were caught in a near Super Rugby mindset in Wellington tonight – chasing the glory win at all costs.

A few young players will have learned a number of hard lessons about the need to finish what they start; to look after the ball and to understand that it matters not two hoots what form their opponent has been in coming into the game.

Test football, when both teams come at it with everything, creates a world where small things matter and the margins between success and failure is tiny.

If Anton Lienert-Brown had thrown his pass early in the second half to Rieko Ioane, just 50 cm higher, the All Blacks would have scored and not South Africa.

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If TJ Perenara had kicked the ball just one metre further to ensure it went out a few minutes later, the Boks would have had a lineout and not be launching a counter attack from which they scored.

And if Damian McKenzie had shifted just two inches to his right to receive the last pass of the game, he would have drifted past the defence and inevitably won the test.

But this is the beauty of pressure and why it is by no means a disaster that the All Blacks lost. Well, not a disaster as long as they take everything they can from it.

Defeat will give the All Blacks plenty to think about. It will require them to question their attitude, their defence, their awareness and their mindset when they were facing a relentless green defensive wall.

It will also require them to accept that they gave too many soft points away and left too many behind. That's the lesson their youngest, least experienced players have to learn.

That may sound dismissive of South Africa's quite stunning effort but for all that the Boks put in and for all that they deservedly came away winners, the All Blacks can't pretend they didn't have more than enough opportunities and pressure to sneak the win for themselves.

There's no escaping Beauden Barrett's goal-kicking. He pushed four conversions wide – two of which, maybe even three, were bread and butter shots.

Yet as everyone knows, Barrett occasionally has these evenings where the ball just won't go where he wants it to.

Maybe he should have handed the duties to his brother or to Damian McKenzie when he came on.

But he didn't, he wanted to own the responsibility which is to be admired. Still, it hurt the All Blacks that they let easy points slip.

They will also know they should have perhaps set up for a drop goal in the final play of the game.

They were determined to play for a penalty or for a try and again, perhaps it was the right thing to do at first.

Yet after pounding away for the better part of two minutes without managing to force some ill-discipline or get over the line, it was time to drop in the pocket and snap the goal.

No one wanted to do it, though. Neither Barrett nor McKenzie drifted into the right place or took ownership and perhaps that was lack of confidence, although more likely it was lack of awareness.

"They played particularly well and took all the chances that were there and if you take them and score five tries you have done a great job," said All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

"We were disappointed there are areas we will have to work on and at the same time we got a team that put us under a lot of pressure. We are trying to put some new structures and try a few things and South Africa asked questions about those structures and I think we will be a better team because of that.

"Maybe a drop goal which we have a set-up for would have been a good option however they tried to score a try.

"[Losing] doesn't happen often but it is important that we learn something from it otherwise the whole thing is a waste of time. But we have to give South Africa a lot of credit. They came out with a plan to put pressure on us and they did that."