The dropped goal question will rightly linger for the All Blacks, but just as crucial in the often frantic final 15 minutes against South Africa was their attitude towards taking, or not in this case, the points on offer from the tee.

Was this a case of them taking a Super Rugby attitude into the late and crucial stages of a test? And, to expand on that; given the presence of so many Crusaders in the pack, including key leaders Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock, was this a case of the All Blacks being blinded slightly by the attacking instincts and success of the defending champions?

Read and Whitelock, in particular, have become so used to calling the right shots for the Crusaders at crucial times – usually a kick to the corner which almost inevitably results in a try – that it would be only natural to carry that confidence up to the next level.

But they didn't attempt any penalty goals at all, not even when down 29-36 after 64 minutes and they were awarded a penalty just on their side of halfway.


Given Beauden Barrett's wonky radar on the night, it probably would have been too far for him – but probably not younger brother, Jordie, who can comfortably kick from that distance. Instead, they kicked for touch.

They received another penalty after 67 minutes when fullback Willie le Roux was penalised and sinbinned for an offside infringement deemed cynical by referee Nigel Owens. This was just to the left of the posts and so close either Barrett could have thrown it over, but instead the All Blacks opted for a scrum when a penalty goal would have narrowed the gap to 32-36 with more than 10 minutes to play.

Their final penalty was awarded after 73 minutes, and that too was in front of the posts.

Again, the All Blacks elected to kick for touch. This time it was successful and replacement flanker Ardie Savea was pushed over the line from a well-executed lineout drive.

Clearly, their option-taking and game management will be reviewed closely in the aftermath of their first defeat to the Boks at home since 2009. The All Blacks are trusted to make the right decisions at the right times – quite rightly because a prescribed game plan would turn them into robots – but a more circumspect approach to accumulating points could be one suggestion from Steve Hansen and company.

It's unlikely they would have taken such a relentlessly attacking approach to the final moments of a World Cup knockout game – and is that because of a lack of preparation after three bonus point victories in a row, or the fact it was "just" a Rugby Championship test?

This result should be good for the All Blacks should the lessons be learned. And one of those could be to understand that there remains a big difference between a Super Rugby match and a test match, even if the opposition players are familiar.

All teams are vulnerable to sustained pressure, but sometimes attempting a penalty goal is the right one even if in this modern All Black age it seems slightly conservative.