NEW PLYMOUTH, New Zealand (Reuters) - The All Blacks were again their own worst enemies despite scoring six tries in their 39-22 victory over Argentina in their Rugby Championship match on Saturday.
The world champions produced a muddled display, characterised by poor decision-making and execution of basic skills, that put them under pressure until they finally seized some semblance of control of the game with 30 minutes remaining.
“I think we scored six tries to one so there is some good stuff there but there was some obvious stuff we have to work on,” coach Steve Hansen said.
“We had moments where we had to battle and think through some stuff that didn’t come easy for us. Obviously you don’t want the errors to keep growing.”
Hansen’s concerns will need to be addressed quickly as his side prepare for a clash with a resurgent South Africa next Saturday.
Too often against Argentina the world champions tried to force a pass, or kick behind the fast-approaching defensive line, or not play for territory when exiting their own half.
“We are trying to force things. It doesn’t matter if we score off the fourth ruck or the third one,” Hansen said.
“We’re trying to play this brand of rugby that everyone wants us to play but sometimes it’s going to force errors and we’ve just got to be better at it.”
Hansen said the team’s success last year, when they played a high-paced game and won all six of their Rugby Championship matches with bonus points, might have given the players a mental hangover this year.
”We’ve come off a great year last year,“ Hansen said. We’ve come into this year and it’s not flowing as easy for us and we’re having to work at it and it’s probably what we need.”
Captain Kieran Read echoed his coach’s frustrations but felt the side were not far off from where they wanted to be.
”We felt good when we had the ball and were able to build pressure,“ Read said. ”I think that’s the key for us, we can’t get over-excited and push the pass.
“We’re not executing when we need to so it came down to us respecting the ball, winning the breakdown and when we did that it became a bit easier.”
Writing by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Clare Fallon