Clinical is the buzz word when it comes to the All Blacks, but you get another perspective if you are part of a squad that has faced them at close to their remorseless best. There was a point last Saturday night when I looked at the scoreboard and it read 33‑0 yet I thought the Wales players had done everything asked of them defensively.
We had kept Ma'a Nonu under control, Kieran Read wasn't half the dynamic threat he can be, we'd done a decent job on Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden was playing in those parts of the field where we wanted him, yet Wales were three tries to nil down. The second was Tony Woodcock from a lineout move which should have been coached against, because New Zealand used it in the World Cup final. The other two were from turnover ball which is why Stuart Lancaster will have been hammering home to England this week that if you make mistakes against the All Blacks they'll hurt you.
They are lethal. They can just put big numbers on you very quickly. Wales made six line-breaks on Saturday and scored two tries – one of those from a maul – New Zealand made three breaks and scored three tries.
They make mistakes because they try a lot, but they are very talented, athletic players who are also game-aware and difficult to defend against.
More than 70% of our missed tackles were on two players, the full-back Israel Dagg and left-wing Julian Savea, the joint inspirations for that first try.
That said, I still think that the way to play against the All Blacks is to have an up-and-in defence, which England have. The New Zealand players do not come up against it very often in Super Rugby – only the Stormers have an all-out rush defence – and the injury to Toby Flood may have helped England in that respect.
Owen Farrell is a good technical player and a pretty savvy tactician who doesn't make as many mistakes as the more adventurous Flood and when Farrell is playing alongside Brad Barritt for Saracens, they tend be pretty mean when it comes to giving away anything in those areas of the field where it's likely to hurt them.
They also work well as a defensive pairing, which will be handy on Saturday, when it comes to shutting down the threat of Dan Carter.
Wales thought long and hard about the kind of difficulties Carter creates and the intention was to cut off his options by denying New Zealand the chance to go wide. In the end Carter failed a fitness test and it was Cruden who we faced, but having a centre quickly up in his face had the desired effect, cutting off the pass to his inside centre and making the fly-half turn back inside and play in areas where we were happier.
On Saturday at Twickenham that is likely to be Barritt's job from set pieces and particularly the scum but in broken play, where it's harder to organise the defensive line, England are more likely to go for the up-and-drift defence which ushers play towards the touchline, where it becomes cramped for space.
The problem here, though, is that Carter – or Dagg and Savea for that matter – is not the kind of player who allows himself to be suffocated that easily. He comes armed with an extra sense few have. It's an awareness that creates doubt in defenders' minds and leaves them guessing as to whether Carter will kick, pass or make the break himself, as he did repeatedly at Murrayfield.
The guy to suffer that day was the Scottish hooker Ross Ford, who was burned twice because he told Carter too much, too soon. If you have a tape of the game it's worth taking a look, but you might have to slow things down.
Carter is a fantastic reader of body language and body shape. When everything is going on around him, he still has the ability to pick up on anything which suggests a potential weakness. In Ford's case, he was twice caught looking the wrong way. If Carter spots a defender looking wide, outside him towards the touchline, then he'll run at the inside shoulder. If he spots a marker looking inside, then he'll go for the outside shoulder.
Ford telegraphed his thoughts by shifting his body angle, changing his shape in the line, leaving himself flat-footed as Carter made his break, got behind the Scots defence and … well, you know the rest.
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