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24 Sep 2007 11:32
In the measured tones of the schoolmaster he once was, New Zealand coach Graham Henry gave his half-term assessment of the All Blacks on Sunday evening.
“We are pretty happy really,” Henry told a news conference after his team had defeated Scotland 40-0 at Murrayfield.
“We had a big week on the set piece and it came through well. I think we scrummed the best we have scrummed in the tournament which was a pleasing aspect.
“Our lineout went pretty well, defence okay.
Attack? We scored six tries and blew a few.”
Henry’s summary underlined the reality of Sunday’s match which was not so much a traditional Test match as a rehearsal for the remainder of the World Cup.
Scotland coach Frank Hadden showed his hand on Friday when he elected to play a second XV and concentrate instead on Saturday’s final Pool C match against Italy which will decide who accompanies the All Blacks into the quarterfinals.
New Zealand, who have never lost to Scotland, used the match to consolidate their scrum and work on their lineout.
The result was a contest which was effectively over before it started.
But five minutes into the second half, with New Zealand leading 23-0, a Mexican wave started and for the rest of the match the only interest remaining in the game was the margin of the final score.
Hadden conceded afterwards the Scots had deliberately targeted Saturday’s match against the Italians.
“Of course we will not be judged on this result,” he said. “We will be judged on whether we reach the quarterfinals.
“I believe we now have a huge advantage ahead of the Italy game because, instead of taking four or five days to recover, we can start training immediately.”
Henry said Scotland had provided the New Zealanders with their best physical challenge of the tournament so far and added he had not been particularly concerned about the number of handling errors made by the All Blacks, who could have doubled their final try tally.
“I think we played a side that was a very competent rugby side,” he said. “They put a lot of pressure on us when we had the ball.
“They were very physical, we weren’t used to that in the first two games we played and I think that was a good learning curve, a good lesson for us at this point.
“We have to ensure we have increased concentration, make sure we look after the ball.” - Reuters
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