By MATTHEW COOPER
It was doubly disappointing to see the negative tactics employed by Fiji in Wellington, considering that this test helped to raise money for their union.
The Fijians seemed to adopt the approach that they would do whatever necessary to restrict the All Blacks' winning scoreline, rather than construct a game themselves. Not only did they end up losing heavily anyway, but it has hardly helped them to progress.
The Fijians continually used illegal tactics at the breakdown, such as coming in from the side, and there were some high tackles.
This was a great opportunity for them against one of the world's best teams to try to develop their own game, but they wasted the chance.
Referee Scott Young also became frustrated, showing two yellow cards.
Considering Fiji's attitude and the poor weather, it was a very good performance from the All Blacks.
People think it is easy to stick 80 or 90 points on those sort of opponents, but Fiji are physically strong and their tactics made it more difficult.
In last week's column, I pushed for an All Blacks wing combination of Tana Umaga as the top choice, with Caleb Ralph ahead of Doug Howlett. So if I stuck my chin out, I'll have to cop a few blows because Howlett had a superb test, which could justifiably nudge him into John Mitchell's first string line-up.
Howlett not only impressed on attack but also defence, and he took the knocks against a physical side and kept coming back.
In contrast, Jonah Lomu was disappointing. No international wing wants to be beaten on the outside the way he was by Norman Ligairi, and again you have to question Lomu's concentration.
You might also question how he is used. The All Blacks bring him in for intricate moves, using his drawing power to create space, but such moves probably aren't his forte. They seemed to break down around him, whereas Lomu is at his best running full steam ahead.
Overall, Mitchell and Robbie Deans should be very happy with that team performance, apart from the injury concerns.
The All Blacks have got the Super 12 out of their system, the forwards are driving more in classic test fashion, they've improved their pick and go, and the accuracy of the team's work has improved markedly over the past month.
It is difficult to pick a favourite for the Tri Nations. But now that Series One (as Mitchell has termed it) is over, he should be happy with the way the side is developing.