Too slow against Namibia and too fast against Georgia, New Zealand are finding it hard to find the right balance in their game, according to centre Conrad Smith.
The All Blacks booked their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a laboured 43-10 win over Georgia on Friday that was riddled with basic errors.
“We obviously want to play with a lot of tempo, but we made things harder for ourselves then we just made errors,” Smith said.
“The boys are trying hard and it’s difficult in these games when you are expected to win easily and you have opposition that are doing their best to stop you. They [Georgia] did a really good job and the frustration built in our team. Unfortunately we didn’t quite click.”
The All Blacks ran in seven tries against Georgia, including a hat-trick for Julian Savea and a scorching effort by fellow winger Waisake Naholo.
“There was some good stuff in the game,” Smith said. “We were almost going to crack things open but it wasn’t to be so we have to move on.”
New Zealand’s earlier 58-14 win over Namibia had developed into a frustrating arm wrestle, and Smith said: “That’s the difficult thing.You look at last week. The game ground to a halt almost so we thought if that’s going to happen, why don’t we look at ways to get things going?”
The defending champions’ approach to the knockout matches will be very different. “These are pool games and we are trying to get things out of them but it’s not the way we are going to play in a knockout game,” Smith said.
In between the tries against Georgia, the All Blacks were guilty of several knock-ons and loose passes while their scrum was rattled by the powerful Eastern Europeans. Smith added: “The pace we were trying to play at had a bit to do with that, one or two errors crept in.
“It’s funny how that adds its own pressure and suddenly that snowballs.
“You just have to get through these games. No one is ever going to be happy, if we post a big score then everyone will say there is no point playing that game because in a knockout it would be totally different.”
New Zealand play Tonga in their final Pool C game on Friday and another win would set up a quarter-final against the Pool D runners-up, likely to be Ireland or France.Reuse content