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Try scoring gives All Blacks the killer edge

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Sportal.co.nz     26 Nov 2013     Getty Images

That's the belief of Daily Telegraph rugby writer Mick Cleary.

New Zealand's win over Ireland was not down to luck, it was down to the killer punch, something Ireland, England and France had all lacked in their games against the world champions, he said.

"There is no edge when it comes to the big moments, they [Ireland, England and France] are too inward and cautious, too fearful of consequence, and in essence, not good enough at scoring tries," he said.

While New Zealand were forced to go for broke when getting their penalty chance there was never any panic over the goal. And it was unlikely a northern hemisphere team could play the same way.

"The reasoning is simple – scoring tries is not part of a European's DNA. It is not the default instinct of players in this part of the world to have a crack. It is for a New Zealander," he said.

Cleary made the point that the choice did not always work and cited the lack of pragmatism in the 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France in Cardiff as an example.

"The fact remains that New Zealand, as well as South Africa and Australia, are used to scoring tries in Super Rugby. The weather is benign, the grounds are hard and the competition's raison d'etre is to get bums on seats through try-scoring. Entertainment is no longer the real driving force, though, productivity is.

"Tries win matches. And even though the 2015 [World Cup] tournament will be played here, it is already clear that the World Cup will not be won by a team unable to contest the try-count," Cleary said.

In achieving their perfect season New Zealand scored 51 tries at an average of 3.64 a game.

"There is no reason why tries might not be scored by forward mauling and driving. There is no reason why teams should not opt to screw the opposition into the ground at the scrimmage so as to drain their legs for defensive shifts.

"Tries can come from many sources. But come they must. England have realised that, and there is far more intent in their approach if not yet in their execution.

"Ireland, too, reached deep within on Sunday but still came up short. They had so much going for them but they could not match New Zealand's ingrained belief that they would find a way," he said.