Opinion By Jim Kayes
Dan Carter said in the build up to the test that he felt good about his game when he was taking the ball to the line. He should feel pretty pleased with his performance in the 51-22 win against Scotland at Murrayfield because Carter's flashes of brilliance with the ball in hand were crucial to the All Blacks victory.
Scotland played with passion, aggression, attitude and courage as their three tries show. It was performance that gave the All Blacks a bit of a fright, but without really threatening to finish in an historic win.
Carter wasn't flawless as it was his pass that was intercepted for Scotland's first try, to wing Tim Visser, and he duffed a straight forward penalty early on. But with the ball in hand he was always dangerous.
He made two breaks in the play that finished in fullback Israel Dagg's try and had a busy hand in at least three of the All Blacks four first half tries.
Carter's genius is simple - like all great players he has time on his side. He's gone through the gap before others have seen it, and delivered the pass with timing and accuracy to create spaces few others would have thought was there. In a backline stacked with talent, when Carter runs the opposition's defence has to react, leaving holes for Carter to put others into. His work to create centre Ben Smith's try was a case in point.
This was his 93rd test and while he might have slowed a tad his ability to read a game and manipulate the attack is almost without peer.
As handy as Carter was, named Man of the Match, he wasn't a one-man band at Murrayfield with the forwards showing the difference between the All Blacks and most other teams, especially those from Britain.
They do their set piece well, but are superb with the ball in hand, some of the tight forwards showing skills a British back would be proud to own.
Of those with points to prove, Wyatt Crockett wasn't convincing at loosehead prop (though he was very good in general play) while No 8 Victor Vito showed the power and pace he's renowned for.
Blindside flanker, Adam Thomson, blotted his copy book when he was sinbinned for rucking flanker Alasdair Strokosch's head. Sure, the Scot was wearing head gear but it was still a needless and dumb act. French referee Jerome Garces has a reputation for being card happy, but in this case it was justified.
The midfield of Tamati Ellison and Ben Smith was busy, with both involved in plenty of attack, but Ma'a Nonu's ability to break the line was noticeably absent.
Elsewhere, wing Julian Savea showed plenty of pace and power for two tries, with a decent swerve too in his second. Replacements Dane Coles and Tawera Kerr Barlow will be pleased with the debuts, hooker Coles showing some his trademark runs late in the match.
The only negative from the test was the injury that forced Dagg from the field in the 23rd minute.