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Hastings makes a proud exit


reports from Pretoria

New Zealand 48 Scotland 30

The All Blacks, who had only once conceded 30 points in an international, played a game yesterday with which their forebears would not have been familiar. At times, this match at the Loftus Versfeld looked more like a seven-a-side encounter than a quarter-final in the World Cup.

It was frenetic and loose and Scotland, like Ireland before them, can take great credit in scoring three tries against a country which is traditionally the most parsimonious on earth. Scotland, who are still kicking themselves for losing in injury time to France here last week, entered into the spirit of the contest and their forwards, who are not as powerful as England's, finished by hammering away at the New Zealand line. If Scotland, who have never beaten New Zealand, had defeated France they would have played Ireland.

Laurie Mains, the All Blacks coach, said his team would go in as underdogs against England in Cape Town next Sunday. He described the England pack as an "awesome unit" and added: "We have a lot of mental work to tidy up our game." Sean Fitzpatrick, the All Blacks captain who was playing his 100th game for his country, said: "I'm sure it will be very different in the semi-final against Australia." He had to be reminded that they would be playing England.

It was also, of course, an emotional day for Gavin Hastings, who was playing his 60th and final international for Scotland. Afterwards the Tartan Army - there was a vociferous Scottish presence in the crowd of 28,000 - carried him shoulder high from the pitch. Yesterday Hastings kicked 15 points and took his World Cup record to 227, 104 of them in this campaign, and his total for Scotland to 667. He also scored 63 points for the British Lions.

After Jonah Lomu, the 19- stone wing, had beaten Craig Joiner and the Hastings brothers to create the first try for Walter Little in the fifth minute, Scotland came back into the game and would have taken the lead but for a rash decision by Iain Morrison. Applying intense pressure, Scotland won a penalty near the posts, but before Hastings, who had already kicked two, could make a captain's decision and elect to go for goal, Morrison took a tap penalty from which Scotland failed to score. "It was not a turning point," Hastings said.

When the All Blacks ran a tap penalty from the half-way line, Jeff Wilson, who made far too many handling errors and was not an unqualified success at full-back, and Little set up Lomu and the powerful wing again beat Joiner and Scott Hastings to score the second try after 29 minutes.

At half-time Craig Chalmers, who had taken a couple of heavy knocks, was replaced by Ian Jardine, with Graham Shiel moving from centre to stand- off. It was what happened immediately afterwards that gave the All Blacks an unassailable lead. At that point, trailing 17-9, Scotland were still very much in it. From the kick-off, Ian Jones regained possession, Andrew Mehrtens put up a high ball, Gavin Hastings missed it and Little didn't. He seized on the bounce and went over unopposed.

A couple of minutes later Scotland were stung again when Mehrtens picked up a loose ball and sprinted about 60 yards down the short side and only Gavin Hastings managed to lay one ineffective hand on him. In what seemed like the blinking of an eye, the All Blacks went 31-9 in front. Mehrtens went on to score 23 points.

Scotland, however, did not allow the All Blacks to run riot and Doddie Weir scored two tries, both the result of being driven over by his forwards. No Scotland pack had ever enjoyed such luxury and the England forwards would have noted an alarming All Black weakness. New Zealand - they had to play in white to avoid a colour clash - were not overjoyed with some of the decisions of the referee, Derek Bevan of Wales. "We conceded a couple of penalties for late tackles but they were hairline," Mains said.

In between Weir's tries, Frank Bunce, who ran through a bemused defence, and Fitzpatrick scored New Zealand's fifth and sixth tries but Scotland, in the form of the Hastings brothers, had the last word. After Gavin had been held just short on the right, Scott scored a splendid try on the left which his brother converted. Scott, who had earlier taken a big hit from Bunce, could remember nothing about his try.

"We tried to make history," Gavin said. "What we did in the last 10 minutes we should have done in the first 70. But to score two tries when there was a danger of New Zealand scoring 60 or 70 points makes me immensely proud of the team. It was very physical, very intense, and when you get high-pressure rugby mistakes happen and tries get scored."

Asked about tackling Lomu, Hastings said: "He's a huge man and you've just got to be aggressive. I'm not sure New Zealanders would like to tackle him." Scotland go on tour to New Zealand next summer without their captain and fullback who, at the age of 33, maintained that his third World Cup would be his last.

"He's been a fantastic ambassador for the game," Fitzpatrick said. "He's been a great credit not only to Scotland but to rugby as a whole. He's proved that he's the best full-back in the world." There were times yesterday when Gavin Hastings, whose self-belief since pulling on the blue jersey in 1986 has been instrumental in creating his record-breaking career, looked the best. And there were times when he looked vulnerable. "I'll put away the bad times and have a few beers," he said. "The Tartan Army's still singing."

SCOTLAND: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); C Joiner (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), G Shiel (Melrose), K Logan (Stirling County); C Chalmers, B Redpath (both Melrose); D Hilton (Bath), K Milne (Heriots FP), P Wright (Boroughmuir), D Cronin (Bourges), D Weir (Melrose), R Wainwright (West Hartlepool), E Peters (Bath), I Morrison (London Scottish). Replacements: I Jardine (Stirling County) for Chalmers, 40; S Campbell (Dundee HSFP) for Cronin, 64.

NEW ZEALAND: J Wilson; M Ellis (Otago), F Bunce, W Little (both North Harbour), J Lomu (Counties); A Mehrtens, G Bachop; R Loe (all Canterbury), S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown (both Auckland), I Jones (North Harbour), R Brooke (Auckland), J Joseph (Otago), Z Brooke (Auckland), J Kronfeld (Otago).

Referee: D Bevan (Wales).