Hugo Southwell: Time for lesson at finishing school
Numerous occasions we got ourselves where we wanted in behind their defensive line
Monday 10 November 2008
With both the passion of the "Haka" and the sight of the inspirational Chris Hoy placing the match ball on the halfway line, the adrenaline was pumping through us. The game started just as we had wanted, with Mike Blair catching the All Blacks slightly off guard and finding Chris Paterson with a delicate offload. Chris was stopped just short of the try line, the All Blacks slowed the ball up and frustratingly, as on many occasions during the game, we didn't turn this line break into a try.
This, combined with turnover ball deep in their third, allowed the All Blacks to assert their dominance on the game and teach us a lesson in the art of finishing. This is something that definitely needs to be addressed this week, as the South Africans will pose a different threat. With the rush defence they employ as opposed to the drift defence of the All Blacks, we will have a lot less time on the ball and our decision-making will be put under even more pressure. As much as we were guilty for our lack of tries, you have to give an enormous amount of credit to their defence, especially their scramble defence, which on numerous occasions not only stopped try-scoring opportunities but also forced turnover ball. There were definitely positives to be taken from the game. It is the minor detail that we have to get right to turn this level of performance into a very good one for the South Africa game.
The margins at this level are very slight and I know this squad has got what it takes to produce the sort of consistent performance that will get the result we desperately want next week. The structure of our game is definitely there and on numerous occasions we got ourselves exactly where we wanted in behind their defensive line.
We fully appreciate what we have to work on to turn this possession into points. The boys will be doing whatever it takes in training to make sure that this happens next week in what will prove to be another immense physical battle.
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