The backs as a unit and individually get reasonabl' />

It's judgment time for the 2000 All Blacks, and the marks can be split into two easy categories.

The backs as a unit and individually get reasonable passmarks, and stamps of excellence in some areas.

The forwards, though, provide more questions than answers, none more so than the front row.

There were ominous signs before the test at Ellis Park, the most important being that the All Blacks over the past few years have struggled to deliver when they are supposed to win.

You must take your hat off to the South Africans, who were unrecognisable from the team who lost in Christchurch. Their backs in yesterday's test actually looked as though they knew each others' names.

It was at times a brilliant effort from the Boks, but the All Blacks gave them too much leeway, especially with a sometimes confused defensive pattern.

The setpieces were once again a major problem. Our kickoff takes and lineouts have been shoddy all year, and still let the All Blacks down yesterday.

The All Blacks tried short kickoffs which Mark Andrews accepted with glee. In contrast, the All Blacks lost important kickoffs.

The All Blacks must approach virtually every one of their lineouts wondering whether they are going to win it, rather than being able to plan with confidence around a good take.

The front row are a major disappointment, especially considering where they appeared to be heading a couple of years ago.

It's their work as a unit that is the real worry.

Anton Oliver made a couple of good runs, but Carl Hoeft fell off a couple of tackles, which was very disappointing, and Kees Meeuws just wasn't dominant.

It was the South African front rowers who charged around in a dominant mood.

With so many problems in our lineout, there has to be question marks over Norm Maxwell, because he is our No 1 player in that area.

Josh Kronfeld was not up to his normal high standards, and Taine Randell is probably no further ahead or back from where he was last year. Kronfeld has said he wants to tour France and Italy, and he will be one of the players having to prove his worth in the NPC.

Wayne Smith and Tony Gilbert have made it clear they are interested in form, and there are some interesting openside players around.

"Gus" Collins was outstanding in a beaten Northland team on Saturday, although of course playing Waikato is a different story from lining up against the Springboks. There are other likely No 7s around, such as Kupu Vanisi and Matua Parkinson, so it's a case of come back and show your stuff for players like Kronfeld.

The newcomers in the side - and I include Todd Blackadder, Ron Cribb, Troy Flavell and Pita Alatini in that category - have progressed very well, although I don't think Leon MacDonald is really there.

MacDonald seemed to get stagefright at the end by forcing the ball rather than launching a last-ditch counterattack, although you could certainly not blame him for the test loss.

Justin Marshall has improved over last year, which is very encouraging, and Andrew Mehrtens has made advances in dealing with the more physical nature of his position.

And those outside backs are lethal matchwinners and tremendous when they get the chance to run, although it was a surprise to see Jonah Lomu chip ahead when he looked in the ideal position to use his bulk and power to head for the tryline.

Once again, it was a brilliant rugby spectacle, and the quality of South Africa's performance means New Zealand may not have lost the Tri-Nations trophy. The Springboks might still provide Australia with a reasonable test.

But the big difference between the All Blacks and Wallabies is that while the Australians step up and win the games they are supposed to, we often fail, as occurred in the daunting arena that is Ellis Park.

All Blacks test programme 2000