Depends on perspective I guess.
It was the first time the All Blacks had to play accountable rugby and actually structure their tries.
I think it would be fair to say there were far more positives than negatives overall though.

Howlett makes history in rout

From Angus MacKinnon in Edinburgh, Scotland
September 24, 2007

NEW Zealand wing Doug Howlett became his country's leading try-scorer as the All Blacks strolled into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a 40-0 demolition of Scotland at Murrayfield today.

Howlett, 29, claimed two of the six tries scored by the tournament favourites, taking his Test tally to 48 to improve the mark he had briefly shared with Christian Cullen.

New Zealand produced a performance that was anything but vintage, its finishing lacked the cutthroat edge displayed in previous Pool C wins over Italy and Portugal.

But Graham Henry's men could be forgiven for opting for cruise control with a second-string Scotland side never seriously threatening to put them under pressure.

Scotland will be back at full strength to play Italy in St Etienne at the weekend, a match that will decide which side joins the All Blacks in the last eight.

Having apparently accepted the inevitability of defeat before the start, the Scots' priority was to avoid losing by a margin that could affect morale across the squad going into the Italy match.

The early indications on that score were ominous, and the Scots enjoyed an early let-off when New Zealand wing Sitiveni Sivivatu dropped Dan Carter's improvised chip with the line beckoning.

New Zealand still required less than five minutes to take the lead.

Rodney So'oialo picked up at the base of a five-metre scrum and the No.8t's round-the-back pass allowed captain Richie McCaw to slice his way unchecked through a wrong-footed defence.

Scotland five-eighth Chris Paterson failed with a straightforward drop-goal attempt before All Blacks full back Leon MacDonald, with his last significant contribution before he limped off injured, put Howlett over in the corner for his record-breaking try.

Paterson also left the field shortly afterwards, an early blow to the head providing coach Frank Hadden with additional reason to replace him with Dan Parks.

The introduction of the Australian-born fly half coincided with Scotland's first period of sustained pressure, but the home side was soon on the backfoot again.

A Carter penalty stretched the lead before Sivivatu was denied by Hugo Southwell's try-saving tackle after the wing once again had been picked out by the fly-half's immaculate cross-field kicking.

New Zealand scrum half Byron Kelleher was not as wasteful after being fed by Chris Masoe, who had bulldozered his way through three Scotsman before slipping a pass to the No.9 a couple of meters from the line.

Another Carter penalty just after the restarted extended New Zealand's lead, but the large contingent of Kiwi fans had to wait until 18 minutes from full-time before lock Ali Williams powered through four Scottish tackles to record his side's fourth try with a full-length touchdown in the right-hand corner.

Carter made amends for an off-day with his goal-kicking by adding a fifth try three minutes later, , the star touching down after a Nikki Walker fumble had left him with a clear 60-metre run to the posts.

There was still time for Howlett to complete a memorable afternoon with his second try.


All Blacks made to struggle

Lynn McConnell
Monday, September 24, 2007 - 03:41 AM (AEST)

New Zealand received its World Cup wake-up call from Scotland in its 40-0 win at Murrayfield.

While the final margin had a convincing look to it, the third quarter where New Zealand failed to stamp itself on a game, but unspectacular Scottish effort, will have caused some concern in the New Zealand camp.

It was the lack of authority against a clearly inferior opponent that served as a reminder to the All Blacks of the control they will need from the outset of tighter contests later in the competition. Capping the overall team effort was the rare sight of flyhalf Dan Carter having an off day with his goal-kicking.

It was ironic that the All Blacks having wanted a tougher game, made the game more stressful by their own failings.

There had to be satisfaction with the contribution made by the substitutes called on, especially rampaging loose forward Sione Lauaki and hooker Andrew Hore, who revelled in the loose play as the game finally opened up.

From the game itself, centre Conrad Smith showed signs of being close to his best touch while his combination with five-eighth Luke McAlister looked effective and apart from one defensive error when kicking the ball from the field of play into the in-goal zone, Nick Evans looked lively at fullback when replacing the injured Leon MacDonald after 20 minutes.

Wing Doug Howlett took only 14 minutes of the Rugby World Cup clash with Scotland to claim the New Zealand Test try scoring record of 47 tries ending Christian Cullen's share of the mark.

Howlett's was the second try of the game as the All Blacks punished an indecisive Scotland combination.

New Zealand's scrum had an immediate, and lasting effect, several times destroying Scottish ball and undermining the link between its scrum and backs.

From the third scrum of the game, after four minutes, a simple diversionary run from halfback Byron Kelleher saw Rodney So'oialo take the ball, run to the right and then flick the perfect backhand pass to McCaw to score.

Howlett's try came from a driving burst which freed the ball for McAlister to delay his pass to feed MacDonald into a gap and he drew the remaining defence to see Howlett in at the corner.

McAlister then demonstrated his defensive capabilities when not only stopping a charging Craig Smith, but depositing the Scottish tighthead prop five metres closer to his own goal-line. From the resulting movement, Carter landed his first penalty goal of the afternoon.

New Zealand's defences were put under some significant pressure around the 25-minute mark with some sustained pressure but the line held firm and New Zealand eventually won the scrum feed to clear the line. Moments later tremendous defensive offence resulted in the All Blacks clearing even further downfield.

As the forwards worked a return to hooker Anton Oliver from a lineout throw, the movement gained impetus when blindside flanker Chris Masoe ran back on the angle to take play to the line and halfback Byron Kelleher was able to dart around the blindside to force his way over near the corner.

After Carter landed a 42nd minute penalty goal, the All Blacks ran the ball back from the re-start with McAlister making a superb break, linking with McCaw and Conrad Smith before the move broke down just short of Scotland's line.

New Zealand's third quarter was disappointing with handling mistakes and wrong options more prevalent and it wasn't until substitutions were made that some fluidity returned and tries came in quick succession for lock Ali Williams and Carter.

The first saw Williams circling behind a backs move to take the last pass and score in the corner and then a Scottish handling mistake saw Carter pick up the ball and race 60m to touch down.

Howlett scored the last try after some fine bullocking running by Hore who slipped the ball to Howlett who found space and headed the defence in a 30m run to the line.

Despite the worst weather forecasts which predicted rain and strong winds, they did not eventuate and the ground was in perfect condition for the game and a crowd of 64,550 watched on.

New Zealand's use of its 'silver' jersey did nothing to ease the confusion between the colours of the sides and only added to the clash of colours.

New Zealand 40
Tries: Howlett 2, McCaw, Kelleher, Williams, Carter
Conversions: Carter 2
Penalty goals: Carter 2