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'We were in pretty good control': Why the All Blacks always believed they'd beat Scotland

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images)

The All Blacks’ thrilling win over Scotland reflects the resilience, passion and skill that the team has – they never panicked, the just believed in themselves.

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After an up and down international season, the All Blacks appeared to turn a corner last weekend when they beat Wales at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium by an emphatic score.

But a week is a long time in international rugby, and for a team with World Cup ambitions, the thrilling 31-23 win at Murrayfield is possibly a reflection of how much this team has grown.

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In Test match rugby there are at least eight teams who, in theory, can beat each other in close contests on their day. France were able to defeat reigning World Cup champions South Africa by four over the weekend, and Italy made history against the Wallabies.

For the All Blacks to  dig deep and earn a hard-fought win when their backs were up against the wall – that’s a sign of a team who believes in their processes and ability.

Veteran scrum-half TJ Perenara spoke about the belief that the All Blacks have after his first Test of the year, saying he never felt like the visitors were going to lose.

“I always felt like we were in pretty good control. I didn’t feel that we were gonna lose that game, both being on the bench and when I was on the field,” Perenara told reporters.

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“I don’t feel there was a big momentum shift because I thought we were always in control.”

The All Blacks were the favourites going into the Test, and they more than lived up to that label early-on after racing out to a 14-nil lead.

Tries to Samisoni Taukei’aho and debutant Mark Telea inside the first eight minutes saw the men in black take control, before Scotland struck back with two tries of their own.

Spurred on by the passionate and vocal Murrayfield crowd, Scotland were able to build on this lead on either side of the break, as they took control with a 23-14 lead.

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But tries to Scott Barrett and a second to Telea helped the All Blacks fight their way back into the lead with just over 10 minutes to play, and they held on for an important win.

“Any place when you fall behind on the scoreboard against a sharp football team, it is tough,” Perenara added.

“But you have to fall back on your processes and what your identity is as a team and for us, we understand how we want to play the game and we understand the strengths that we have.

“When things get hard we can’t go into our shells, we have to dig deeper with what we’re good at and understand how we want to play, and put our players who are game breakers in a position to do that.

“You put your players and you put your system in positions that you trust and that you’ve done for a long time, and that allows you to give yourself the best chance of winning.”

Try scorer Taukei’aho echoed his teammates comments about the belief that the squad has in their ability.

The hooker, who ran the ball nine times and also made nine tackles, said the All Blacks trust “whoever is on the park” to “do the job.”

“We’ve talked about it as a team all week, the Scottish never go away, they’ll sneak in there, they’ll keep fighting and they did,” Taukei’aho said.

“Credit to them (for) coming back and levelling it up and coming into half-time we knew we were in for a tough Test match.

“We always have belief, we trust each other. We know what we’re capable of.

“Belief is always there, it doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30 points down. The belief is always there (that) whoever is on the park will do the job.”

New Zealand have one more Test match to play in 2022, and it’s a blockbuster against England at Twickenham.

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