15 Sep

All Blacks v Portugal – 15th Sept 2007
by Tracey Nelson
15 Sep 2007

jerryvportA less polished performance from the second stringer All Black side
this week, with a string of handling errors marring the opening 20
minutes of the game.

Kudos to Portugal though, because while they may
only be ranked 25th in the world they put in a far better effort than
Italy the week before and won a huge round of applause from the Kiwi
contingent for their try in the first half.

As expected, the All Blacks cracked the ton in this game and at times
it did look like an unopposed training run. The shortage of fit locks
did bring about the marvellous sight of tight-head prop Carl Hayman subbing on
for Chris Jack early in the second half – although I’m sure the
lineout lifters must have been openly relieved there weren’t too many
lineouts thrown his way.

There was a brief moment of heart in mouth when Ali
Williams went down injured but it appeared to just be winding and
nothing more serious we hope.

Once again the whole bench got a run, and it was pleasing to see Greg
Somerville play a good 60 minutes before he was subbed off. The only
slightly vexing thing at the moment is the form of both 2nd 5s -
McAlister had moments of madness with the boot last weekend and this
week Mauger showed lapses on both passing and catching.

But the
reality is that despite some dazzling tries, so far the All Blacks
have had no serious opposition and it remains to be seen if Scotland
can provide that. One would have to doubt it, given the rollings
handed out to England and Wales by SA and Australia respectively this
weekend.

With the injury cloud hanging over lock Keith Robinson the word is
that he has until the last pool game to prove his fitness else a
replacement lock will be called over; at this stage it’s looking to be
either Tom Donnelly or Troy Flavell.

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