Randell: All Blacks get win but are still rusty

TAINE RANDELL
Last updated 21:58 14/06/2014
Jerome Kaino
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ
CHANGES NEEDED: Jerome Kaino's combination with Liam Messam is a work in progress, says Taine Randell.
Julian Savea
ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Julian Savea dives over to score in the second half, giving the All Blacks an 18-13 lead.

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OPINION: Yet another riveting game between the All Blacks and England.

The All Blacks were more dominant this week, especially in the second half. But England were competitive and it was an enjoyable game to watch.

Fair play to England, many people wrote them off and a lot of people, including myself, were disappointed that they didn't send a full strength team for the whole tour.

But I like the way they set their gameplan out to nullify the All Blacks.

They showed again in the first half they can employ a rushing defence that the All Blacks struggle with, but it requires heaps of accuracy to play like that and as the English tired, that's when the All Blacks exploited their superior athleticism.

The All Blacks have still got some issues and as fine players as Jerome Kaino and Liam Messam are, they're not good as a combination.

The biggest and most obvious positive from the game was the play of Ben Smith, who was outstanding.

That was the 16th win in a row for the All Blacks, so it's all on for next week in Hamilton where they'll be hoping to equal the record for wins on the trot by a top nation.

The conditions could be trying, which is certainly something that might favour the English.

I would stick with Aaron Cruden next week, even though some people might be calling for a change. It's hard to judge between him and Beauden Barrett, because it's a lot easier for you when you come on as a substitute.

The third test looms large on the horizon as a crucial game for the New Zealand team. Even though it's a dead rubber, there's the danger that England will be more motivated than the All Blacks.

If England win their last test of the season they'll take a heap of confidence going into the World Cup next year.

At this stage we don't quite know whether England are really good or if the All Blacks are a bit down on where they should be given the ability in the side.

But if I had to put some money on it after what I've seen in the two tests so far,  I'd say it is probably a bit of both.

Next week's test will be well worth watching. 

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