Only five Scots get pass marks for efforts to halt All Blacks

ONLY five of the Scotland team who began the game against the All Blacks played to an acceptable level, defence coach Graham Steadman said yesterday. Some of those who underperformed in Saturday's 49-3 defeat will lose their places in the team as a result of a match which Steadman regarded as a "surreal" contrast between tourists who were at the top of their match and a Scotland side who got so many things wrong.

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"Two-thirds of our starting XV did not perform to their full potential," Steadman said after a training session at Murrayfield. "I felt there were only five that played average or above average. Against the best team in world rugby we had to have everybody firing on all cylinders and that wasn't the case.

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"It was surreal - the speed they were playing at and our inability to contain them. It was as if we were in third gear and they were in fifth gear then were knocking it up to sixth."

Although he described Scotland's showing as "without question the worst" he had seen in his time as defence coach, Steadman remains confident that not all the positive work of the past year has been undone, and that the progress seen in the summer's two-Test win in Argentina was not illusory. "It's back to basics. I highlighted several defensive deficiencies which I've not seen for a long time - which is testimony to the work we've out in and the consistency we've shown over the last 12 months up to this weekend.

"It's nothing that can't be fixed and I'm ever the optimist. We've had one or two home truths said in the meeting we've just had, and the pleasing thing is the players have held their hands up and been very honest. They know that what was on show on Saturday was unacceptable.

"We knew it was going to be a tough night at the office, but the manner in which we conceded (scores] was my biggest concern. There were players making uncharacteristic mistakes."

Steadman accepted, however, that he and his fellow-coaches might also have got elements of their preparation wrong. They were all too aware that New Zealand centre Sonny Bill Williams was likely to be a danger man, but they perhaps did not appreciate the full nature of the threat he posed in just his second Test match.

"The All Blacks got out of the blocks nice and sharp, and had a game-breaker in Sonny Bill Williams."We'd done our homework and talked about how we were going to deal with him, but you've got to have the right attitude to really punish what's coming in your channel and we never had that.

"I hold my hand up. There was a certain part of defence which I may have overlooked. We didn't deal with him particularly well."

One factor which made the defeat all the more galling for Steadman was the tourists' superior tactical preparation, which All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith was good enough - or perhaps sadistic enough - to share with his opposite number after the game.

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"I had a chat with Wayne and to his credit he was very open about where they were looking to attack us. They felt with our lack of athleticism in midfield they could get round the corner and play with a bit of width.

"It's something we've highlighted. We've got to be more effective in the collision area.

"We didn't get the basics right. They were allowed to play off the front foot for 80 per cent of that game.

"There were certain things happened within our defence that I've never seen before. We didn't even get the basic reset right in terms of numbers and realignment.

"We got a little bit lucky. It could quite easily have been more. We've got to give the All Blacks credit for being clinical. Of the seven tries we conceded, five were off the back of our possession.

"It was a bitter pill to swallow, and something I've not experienced too often in my professional days as a player and a coach. It makes you want to roll your sleeves up and work hard.

"It's an eye-opener, and it's certainly been a wake-up call for certain individuals within our squad. There will be changes, without naming names, as is always the case on the back of a defeat like that.

"But most importantly what we're looking for now is a response. They certainly owe it to themselves, their family and the public who paid their hard-earned cash to come and support them.

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"They entertained themselves with the Mexican wave because there wasn't much to cheer about, and it still hurts talking about it. But we've got to park it. As of this evening we move on.

"It's been a tough 48 hours. I spent seven hours on Sunday watching that (match] from four different angles. It got worse.

"We've just had a two-hour meeting to go into the detail of where we're at off the back of that performance, and where we need to be. And the players have now got to absorb that information and put it into practice."

Those players may not have much time in which to absorb that information, but the fact that another match is coming along so quickly will at least give them a chance to prove their coach's contention that the All Blacks defeat was, at least in some aspects of the game, a one-off.

"I would like to think it's just a minor blip," Steadman concluded."The players are fully aware where they need to be at.

"I expect us to turn up with the right attitude, because that's one thing I questioned from Saturday's game that wasn't right."

One thing, but far from the only thing.