New Zealand
Scotland scare an important lesson - Hansen
November 17, 2014
Scotland 16-24 New Zealand (Australia only)

Eighty minutes of ugly Test rugby against Scotland will reap long-term dividends for the All Blacks, Steve Hansen said after their 24-16 win at Murrayfield.

The All Blacks had beaten Scotland by an average score of 41-14 in 15 Tests since the Scots last threatened to defeat the tourists in 1991, but the belligerent hosts were not for routing on Saturday as they tore into the collisions, forcing the experimental New Zealand side into errors and rushed decision-making from the outset.

Hansen believes the experience will be of enormous value to those players who hadn't been involved in a tight Test. Apart from two centurions - captain Richie McCaw and first five-eighth Dan Carter - and fullback Ben Smith, none of the starting team had earned more than 25 caps.

We felt the pressure - McCaw

"Pressure's a funny thing for young athletes and you've got to learn to cope with it," Hansen said. "We had a group of men out there on their own, apart from the skipper, having to deal with that. So I'm very happy."

The All Blacks not only made their now customary slow start, they also failed to establish any sort of control for 70 minutes - at which point Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw lined up a penalty that would have put the Scots in front. Laidlaw msed, however, and the All Blacks controlled the closing phases and set up a try to Jeremy Thrush.

Hansen said his players also learned an important lesson about facing northern hemisphere teams, who make it difficult to play fluid rugby.

"If they're allowed to go off their feet, then they're going to create slow ball. And when you get gang-tackled, you're never going to get quick ball."

The latter point was a reference to the players who did not stick to the running lines they had planned.

"When you put young people out there who aren't used to that pressure, they're going to run away from the pressure a wee bit so the running lines aren't going to be good."

Hansen, meanwhile, refused to blame hooker James Parsons on Test debut for the number of botched All Blacks lineouts, saying the tourists' premier lineout forwards were resting while the defensive work of the Scotland pack led by Richie Gray was impressive.


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