Five things Scotland must do to match New Zealand

Iain Morrison looks at the key areas for Scotland as they look to pull off a shock at BT Murrayfield.

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New Zealand name strongest possible side to face Scotland

Win their own set piece

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This may look obvious but restarts are part of the game’s set piece and Scotland were woeful, again, last weekend as an old failing came back to haunt them. The scrum was stable enough without ever threatening Samoa’s own put-in, but you fancy Darryl Marfo will get a thorough examination of his credentials by the All Blacks front five in a way that Samoa could not manage. The All Blacks have arguably the best lineout defence in the world and the Scots are probably short of one excellent jumper in the absence of the injured Ryan Wilson.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend and his players have their work cut out for them. Picture: Neil Hanna

Kicks and kick reception must be accurate

Ignore all your preconceived conceptions about the All Blacks because the best team in the world almost always kick more than the opposition. Why? Because they are better at getting the ball back than anyone else. They pressure the kick receiver and, while he has to be perfect every time, if the Blacks win once in the air they have made 40 yards for almost no effort. Finn Russell needs to vary his kicks, which he is good at, and cut out the one or two loose ones that usually crop up most matches.

Vary the attack

You know how Scotland are going to attack, with the ball in hand and probably in the wider channels, accelerating through the phases. If you know that then so does Steve Hansen. Gregor Townsend has to come up with something that New Zealand are not expecting. Their driving game got good traction last weekend, earning Stuart McInally two tries. Expect Finn Russell to dink the ball behind that rush midfield defence and expect Huw Jones to grubber the ball deep down the line to keep the move alive. I would like to see Scotland test the little full-back Damien McKenzie under the high ball, with Alex Dunbar challenging in the air and Jones looking for the ricochet. Scotland can’t be predictable.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend and his players have their work cut out for them. Picture: Neil Hanna

Defend like they mean it

Scotland defence will be better than it was last weekend, it will need to be. New Zealand will kick for the corners and maul the Scots and how the home side react to the All Blacks’ first lineout drive will go some way to determining how many more they will be asked to halt. This is the Scots Achilles’ heel and opposition teams are going to keep picking the scab until and unless the Scots draw a line in the sand. It is difficult to stop once the maul is set so it would be nice to see the Scots vary their defence, stand off one maul to allow the tackler to target the ball carrier, whether at the front or the back. Show the opposition something different each time, make them think.


Another obvious point but if Ireland taught the world one lesson in Chicago last year it was that you won’t beat the All Blacks by relying on penalty goals. The British and Irish Lions might manage it, Scotland lack the personnel up front. Joe Schmidt’s team scored five tries that day against New Zealand’s four. This Scotland side is set up for attack, the strength of the team in the back division where tomorrow’s midfield duel is mouth watering. The visitors have a clear and obvious advantage in the back three where Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo are as good a pair of finishers as can be found in world rugby. If they have to lose, better the Scots do so by six tries to three than by three tries to nil, especially with the Wallabies in waiting.