Disappointing though the result was for Scotland, this was by far the most competitive performance by the young Scots against New Zealand in the history of this championship.
“We can take positives from this game, but we know we have to get better for the Ireland match.” said the Scotland coach, John Dalziel.
Scotland faced a New Zealand side physical with ball in hand and with slick footwork in attack. “The speed they do things at is just so impressive. They’re very explosive,” said Dalziel.
The Scots most effective weapon was the driving maul which spawned two tries in the first half and which might have given Scotland a bonus score in the second half. “It was really frustrating not to get the fourth try . We certainly had chances.” added Dalziel, who singled out winger Ross McCann as one of his side’s best performers.
Elsewhere prop Adam Nicol did a good job after coming off the bench, Matt Fagerson and his replacement, Tom Dodd, worked hard round the fringes and substitute Josh Henderson stamped his mark on the game. Scotland were very much in the game at half-time when they trailed 10-19, having scored a try from a driving maul by Fraser Renwick and then, after the forwards had again mauled well, a classy touchdown from his Hawick clubmate, Darcy Graham, who, coming off his blindside wing, took a subtle pass from Connor Eastgate.
The Scots could have been even closer to the “Baby Blacks” at half-time but two missed conversions and a penalty attempt by the Edinburgh full-back, Blair Kinghorn, proved costly. An Eastgate penalty early in the second half and then a thrilling score from Henderson, who converted his own try, after a break by Kinghorn completed the Scots’ scoring
For New Zealand wing Tima Faingaanuku scored a hat-trick of tries, their other touchdowns coming from hooker Asafo Aumua, flanker Dalton Papalii and centre Orbyn Leger.
The Hawkes Bay stand-off Tiaan Falcon accounted for the remainder of his side’s points with three conversions and two penalty goals.
Scotland, whose only slight injury worry is a head knock to Tom Gordon, face Ireland on Sunday in the second round of the championship.