New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen insists the game against Scotland on Saturday was exactly what his young side needed, despite the world champions being given a scare.
The All Blacks, who will host the British & Irish Lions in 2017, were just one point up entering the final ten minutes at Murrayfield before Jeremy Thrush’s try wrapped up a 24-16 victory.
Hansen made 13 changes from the side that beat England last weekend although New Zealand’s most-capped player Richie McCaw and Test rugby’s all-time leading points scorer Dan Carter both started.
Scotland have never beaten the All Blacks but Tommy Seymour’s try, which cancelled out Victor Vito’s opener, kept the northern hemisphere team in touch.
However, Thrush’s 74th minute plunge, after a number of pick-and-drives, denied the home side a famous victory.
It gave Hansen’s men a third win out of three before their final autumn international against Wales next weekend and the head coach is adamant it was the ideal test of his youthful line-up’s mettle.
“It was the perfect game for us,” he said. “We knew the strength of Scotland and what they were going to bring – they're an up and coming side.
“For this tour, we wanted to give all the young guys at least two opportunities. The USA game was the first one and this one was a big step up.
“We knew that and we couldn't have asked for a better game because the players had to earn the right to win it.
“They had to stay mentally strong – they got under a lot of pressure at times and came through it very well, I thought.
“It was the same for the Scotland boys. The longer the game went, the more they felt like they were going to win – the pressure started to creep into their game as well.
“Pressure's a funny thing. The young guys have got to learn to cope with it.”