New Zealand opened their World Cup build-up with a lopsided 60-14 win over Fiji in Dunedin on Friday, but despite failing to produce the dominating performance they sought the All Blacks still earned rich praise from coach Graham Henry.
After leading 32-0 at half-time, the All Blacks were held to only two more tries, and conceded two, for most of the second spell - before they broke away to cross the line twice more in the closing five minutes.
The shining light for the All Blacks was the performance of Colin Slade, who staked his claim to be the flyhalf understudy to Dan Carter after missing most of the Super Rugby season when he twice broke his jaw.
The All Black coach, Henry, blamed the inconsistent performance on rustiness in their first game of the year.
"A lot of individuals played well but I think we've got a lot of work to do as a team, which is understandable," he said, singling out Slade and Sitiveni Sivivatu for special mention.
"There is plenty to work on but to score 60 points is pleasing. We just have to work on our teamwork and that's obvious when you haven't played together for nine months."
"We played well in patches and we scored some good tries.
"We were inconsistent in our execution but it's what you'd expect. I think we've got quite a bit of work to do as a team but to score 60 points is pleasing."
Henry reserved special praise for Slade, as the Highlanders playmaker lasted 60 minutes on his full debut before being replaced due to a knee problem, scoring 19 points including a solo try.
"He went pretty soundly," Henry said.
"He's got a knee problem and that's why we replaced him early in the second-half. He'll be frustrated because of that situation."
New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw highlighted the breakdown as an area of concern however, and called on his charges to sharpen up before their Tri-Nations tilt gets underway against South Africa on July 30.
"Where we let ourselves down today was at the breakdown. We didn't get clean ball and the scrumhalf got interfered with or the ball got slowed up," he said.
"The endeavour of what we were trying to do was good. It's just getting the detail right.
"There's definitely some work to do but it's a start and there were some good things there.
"We may not have got all the detail dead right but the things we've worked on you can see are going to come and we've just got to put a bit of work in before we climb into next week I guess."
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