All Blacks have room for improvement
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The Wallabies couldn't keep up with the All Blacks in their 27-19 loss on Saturday (AAP Image/Paul Miller).
The All Blacks are head and shoulders above the field as the world’s best team in international rugby and they can be even better.
In the All Blacks first four games of the inaugural Rugby Championship, they have beaten the Wallabies twice, Pumas once and most recently the Springboks. As imposing as their current 14 match unbeaten streak is, which dates back to the beginning of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, they are still far from unbeatable.
The scary part for other teams is that they are finding ways to win, despite not always being at their best.
An area they could significantly improve on for the rest of the year is their attack. Too many times this season they have squandered try scoring opportunities.
In the second Bledisloe Cup test in Auckland this year, the All Blacks missed several chances to score more five pointers. Despite the emphatic 22-0 score line and Australia’s at times stout defence, the All Blacks could have the won the game by much more if their attack was more clinical.
Two weeks later against the Pumas, the All Blacks again struggled to get over the line, not breaking through until Julian Savea scored a try in the 66th minute. Despite the atrocious conditions in Wellington that night, there were still far too many silly handling errors and errant offloads.
Their most recent encounter with the Springboks in Dunedin was also a patchy one on attack, with the only highlights being an outstanding team try finished by Israel Dagg and individual brilliance by replacement scrum-half Aaron Smith.
The issues in attack have started with uncharacteristically bad handling errors. There has also been too many offloads that have ended in turnover ball, when the better and safer option would have been taking the ball to the ground. They also need to be more patient when close to the line as things have been a little rushed to get over it.
The biggest reason for their struggles in attack this season may just be down to their adjustment to new attack coach Ian Foster. Foster has only been on the new coaching staff for seven Tests after all.
With all the options and skill the All Blacks have in attack though, they should eventually hash out the small details that are preventing them from more scoring opportunities. They are simply too good at the moment to not improve in that area.
Despite these issues, it should not take away from the fact that they keep winning against the rest of the field. Their defence has been close to impenetrable during the current win streak and their collective cunning and intelligence to make the right choice in tight games has been outstanding.
This is arguably the greatest All Black team ever assembled and the fact that they have room to improve has got to be exciting for the team and their fans. With this said, they are certainly not unbeatable and it won’t be easy to extend that winning streak.
If any team could keep it going though and extend that streak, it would be hard to bet against this current group of All Blacks.