THE man who oversaw Scotland’s 25-25 draw with New Zealand nearly in 1983 believes today’s side are capable of earning their first-ever victory over the visitors tomorrow.
Former Scotland coach Jim Telfer told BBC Scotland: “One of these days we’re going to beat them and there’s no reason to think it shouldn’t be Sunday.”
New Zealand drew 18-18 with Australia in Brisbane last month, a result that ended a winning streak of 16 games, and Telfer added: “The All Blacks were a bit complacent.”
Nevertheless, he accepts that Steve Hansen’s side remain strong favourites to continue their unbeaten run at Murrayfield, where they won 49-3 on their last visit in 2010. However, Telfer points to Ireland’s performances in their summer games against the All Blacks, when the visitors came close to winning the second Test.
“Ireland in the second Test in June almost beat them not by playing them at their own game, but playing an Irish game that was quite fast and furious,” he said.
“And I think Scotland, if they got on the front foot, got their set-piece, scrums and line-outs [working], which should be reasonably easy, and kept the game going forward with Greig Laidlaw and Mike Blair, then the pressure is on the All Blacks because they weren’t particularly good in that game. Also, in the first game against the Irish, they were beaten at the breakdown and I think that’s an area where Ross Rennie in particular could be a great asset to us. You have to play your basics right. You don’t give the All Blacks any chances to counter attack.
Scotland’s two professional club sides, Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh, have suffered disappointing results in the Heineken Cup, although the former have been doing well in the Pro12.
“The Scottish team at the moment is in a state of flux because we haven’t played since June and a few players have been injured and that worries me a bit,” Telfer said.
“But there’s a lot of young players there, especially in the back three area and the midfield, who haven’t played against the All Blacks before and I think they should have plenty of youthful confidence going into the game.”
Telfer recalled the 1983 draw, when the Scots featured British and Irish Lions players like John Rutherford, Roy Laidlaw, Colin Deans and John Beattie.
“We had a very good team,” he said. “I had just come back from the Lions and a lot of our players had been playing with the Lions and the All Blacks were slightly weakened because some took a rest after the Lions tour.
“I can remember that it was a dramatic finish because we got to a draw at 25-all and we could have won the game with a kick. Peter Dodds, I think, missed the kick from the touchline.
“But, after that, they were attacking our line and Bernie Fraser took out one of our players in the act of New Zealand scoring and he was penalised, so the score remained at 25-all.”