Scotland 6-32 New Zealand: Young, gifted...and All Blacks
SCOTLAND have been trying to beat New Zealand for 103 years. And they'll have to keep on trying. Frank Hadden's side started brightly yesterday and threatened in flashes but a lack of finishing power combined with the regular concession of turnover ball scuppered any slim hopes they had of pulling off a historic victory.
THE long wait only gets longer. At this rate Godot will make an appearance before the Scots record that longed for victory over the All Blacks. It is proving every bit as elusive as the Snark, the "God" particle or any rational explanation as to why New Zealand remains the only rugby nation that Scotland have never bested.
Not even the exhortations of Beijing's' triple gold medallist Chris Hoy could lift the Scotland side after the cyclist was given the honour of delivering the match ball. More than one person in the crowd was heard suggesting that he should have been playing and certainly the home team needs help from some quarter.
This result was doubly disappointing given the scratch XV that Graham Henry fielded with three new caps and a host of players who are not a household name anywhere other than their own household. The plain fact is that Scotland lost to New Zealand's second XV and, on yesterday's performance, they would not fancy their chances against the third string.
The All Blacks did not even have to play particularly well to beat the Scots. They moved the ball quickly and accurately, they ran hard and straight lines but the truth is that yesterday's team were not extended and, once the match was won, barely seemed interested at times.
Despite this they still looked dangerous every time the ball was moved wide and yesterday afternoon's tutorial in back play is best described as a leaning experience for some of the young Scots. The first thing they will need to learn is to become less generous because at least three of Kiwis' four tries were absolute gifts.
The first came with Nick de Luca in the sin bin after some madness persuaded him to hack the ball out of an All Black ruck while lying on the floor in an offside position. Unable to grant the three penalties that this warranted the referee reached for the yellow card. Barely three minutes of the match had passed.
The extra man was made to count almost immediately when a precise cross-field kick from Stephen Donald found winger Anthony Tuitavake lurking on right flank. The decision went to the TMO but referee Wayne Barnes must have been the only person in Murrayfield who had any doubt about the score.
The Kiwis' second try came when Phil Godman failed to secure Richard Kahui's grubber kick and it duly sat up for Piri Weepu to carry Chris Paterson across the line. The Kiwis only had possession because Thom Evans had been stripped off the ball in contact.
In the second half the Scots needed to score first to keep themselves in this match but instead the crucial try went to the man of the match Kahui who latched onto a Donald up-and-under which the home team did not even contest. The ball bounced viciously to one side, which is why good teams catch it on the full, and Kahui was as surprised as anyone to be ushered unopposed to the line.
Only the All Blacks' fourth try owed nothing to the generosity of their hosts. The talented No.8 Liam Messam collected his own grubber kick and fed Anthony Boric 20 yards out and the big lock was never troubled on his way to the line. Even then replacement full-back Cory Jane had the good grace to drop the ball over the try line after Messam had beaten the last defender with a sidestep that David Duckham could only dream about.
The Scots had started brightly enough after Mike Blair's quick tap penalty caught the Kiwis napping and sent Paterson steaming towards the All Black try line. Flanker Adam Thomson showed great speed for a big man to make the tackle but still the Kiwis were penalised at the breakdown and Scots had an early three-point lead, although not for long. Their only other score was another Paterson penalty midway through the first half.
Once again the only problem of converting ample possession into points came back to haunt the home side. All too often promising breaks came to naught for the lack of support or because a wild pass was thrown. Only in the last quarter of the match did the home backs look genuinely threatening.
Sean Lamont might have grabbed a lifeline just before the break when the big winger chipped ahead and tried to hack the ball over the line only to miss it altogether. He shouldn't expect a call from Sir Alex any time soon. Ben Cairns had a similar opportunity at a similar time but Weepu literally put his body on the line to prevent the score.
Blair darted and dived to good effect all afternoon and the scrum-half made almost as many line breaks as everyone else put together. But with the backline never looking likely to score it was left to the Scots forwards to muscle their way over the Kiwis line and this they repeatedly tried to do. Even with an extra man (Boric was sin-binned late in the first half) they were thwarted. The Kiwi scrum collapsed suspiciously on more than one occasion but they held firm.
This gargantuan pack of Scottish forwards had been picked specifically to bully the All Blacks in exactly this situation and still they failed to force the score.
Frank Hadden's gamble backfired and he must surely field a more athletic and mobile forward eight against the Springboks next weekend.
Scotland: C Paterson, T Evans, B Cairns, N de Luca, S Lamont; P Godman, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford, E Murray, N Hines, J Hamilton, J White, A Hogg, J Barclay.
New Zealand: I Toeava, A Tuitavake, R Kahui, M Nonu, J Rokocoko; S Donald, P Weepu; J MacKinstosh, K Mealamu, J Afoa, A Boric, A Williams, K Read, A Thomson, L Messam.
Scorers: Scotland – Try: Conv: Pen: Paterson (2). New Zealand – Try: Tuitavake, Weepu. Kalui, Boric Conv: Donald (2), Carter Pen: Donald (2)
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west