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'We'll take that': All Blacks better but not without flaws in Namibia win

By Ned Lester
Leicester Fainga'anuku with ball in hand for the All Blacks. Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

Two consecutive record losses exposed numerous areas of concern for the All Blacks, and while progress was made in their round two win over Namibia, questions remain.

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It was a historic match where New Zealand became the first nation to win 50 games at a Rugby World Cup and Sam Whitelock equalled Richie McCaw’s record for most matches in an All Blacks jersey.

The tally of 12 penalties conceded compared to Namibia’s seven, including a red card to prop Ethan de Groot, will make for another tense review session in the New Zealand camp as discipline issues continue to plague the team.

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The improved set piece provided a far better platform to facilitate the dangerous New Zealand backline and rookie halfback Cam Roigard was a constant threat around the ruck and in his distributions, winning Man of the Match.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster made it clear that the forward pack needed to improve in order to compete if the team are to make the knockout stages.

“A job done well,” he said post-match. “We had a clear idea around how we wanted to control the game. The forwards did a good job and enabled us to create opportunities.

“We had a real focus on obviously our set piece and making sure that we really drove well, we scrummed well and set the mark with that and that enabled us to dictate terms and play the way we wanted to play. So, it was an important step for us to get that confidence going.

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“I love the way we stuck at it, we didn’t loosen up too much, apart from the last 10 minutes of course but before that, I thought it was pretty clean.”

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
5
14
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Avg. Points Scored
0
9
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It was trying conditions for large periods of the match with rain pouring throughout the first half. Still, a haul of 11 tries for 71 points is reward for the wealth of attacking firepower within the team.

The execution was shaky at times with handling errors again featuring and a number of kicks being pushed too far, seeing scoring opportunities go begging.

But importantly for the team, the win puts some positive momentum in motion after a difficult month of results.

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“It’s a good feeling getting the win today,” captain Ardie Savea said. “Especially after last week’s result.

“Just very proud of the men for having a good week of prep and then coming tonight and winning like we did. There’s still a few areas where Namibia put us under pressure but we’ll take that.”

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When it comes to lessons from the performance, Savea was singing a familiar tune.

“Our discipline and our defence, we gave a few penalties away and they got opportunities to drive. We want to eliminate those so we want to be ruthless in those areas.”

New Zealand’s errors translated into territorial gain for their opponents and Namibia backed their lineout drive when kickable penalties were on offer.

The lineout maul defence was near faultless for the Kiwis and the defence within their 22 was superb.

The bonus point win, and the points scored help New Zealand’s case for qualifying from their pool.

“Obviously we had to win it,” Foster said. “There’s no doubt about that and so the question is how we kept our focus on what we needed to get out of it.

“We had to get parts of our game (right), where we want to make sure we’re disciplined and sticking to it and not get deterred by the way they were playing.

“Secondly, it’s a competition that points differential is also important, there’s a certain degree of playing to the rules there.”

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