Muir makes Scots suffer

RUGBY UNION: Waikato 39 Scotland 35: Injuries increase tourists' woes while former England captain fears for future
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Scotland, seeking to get their troubled tour back on course in Hamilton after a poor performance against Northland and a training-ground brawl, were denied the victory they deserved by a last-minute try from the Waikato No 8, Dion Muir.

It was a cruel blow for the Scots, who had led from early on. To add to their problems, the winger Derek Stark and Damon Cronin are doubtful for the Test against the All Blacks on 15 June. Stark injured a hamstring as he was tap-tackled on his way to scoring a try and Cronin suffered bruised ribs.

"It is unbelievably disappointing for us," Rob Wainwright, the captain, said. "We have to win here in New Zealand to get credibility."

Jim Telfer, the team manager, said: "After we built up a lead, we went into a comfort zone. We let them score 14 points in the last five minutes."

A vastly improved Scotland took the game to Waikato with aggressive forward play and adroit running by the backs. They were rewarded with tries by Gregor Townsend and Stark. Kenny Logan, who replaced Stark, marked his appearance with a second-half try.

Scotland's other try was scored by the full-back, Rowen Shepherd, from a move that started with a break from Townsend. Ian Jardine made the running, but it was Ian Smith who delivered the scoring pass.

However, while Scotland scored four tries, they allowed Waikato to run in five touchdowns. Waikato's earlier efforts by Matthew Cooper, Duane Monkley and John Walters had shown what their players have gained by playing in Super 12. Wayne Warlow led the final chase with a superb touchdown which, with Cooper's conversion, narrowed Scotland's lead to three points.

Then, from a line-out close to the Scotland line, the former All Blacks lock Steve Gordon tapped the ball to Muir on a peel round the front of the line and the No 8 squeezed in at the corner for the decisive try.

Waikato: Tries Cooper, Monkley, Muir, Walters, Warlow. Conversions Cooper 4. Penalties Cooper 2. Scotland: Tries Logan, Shepherd, Stark, Townsend. Conversions Shepherd 3. Penalties Shepherd 3.

Waikato: B Reihana; W Jennings, W Warlow, M Cooper, J Walters; I Foster, R Duggan; C Stevenson, G Smith, M Drive, S Gordon (capt), T Hemi, D Coleman, D Muir, D Monkley. Replacements: J Spice, E Martin, B Meiung, R Kirke, M Collins, B Foote.

SCOTLAND: R Shepherd (Melrose); C Joiner (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), I Jardine (Stirling County), D Stark (Boroughmuir); G Townsend (Northampton), A Nicol (Bath); D Hilton (Bath), K McKenzie (Stirling County), B Stewart (Edinburgh Academicals), D Cronin (Bourges), G Weir (Newcastle), R Wainwright (Watsonians, capt), E Peters (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester). Replacements: K Logan (Stirling County), C Chalmers (Melrose), G Armstrong (Newcastle), P Walton (Newcastle), T Smith (Watsonians), G Ellis (Currie).

Referee: C Hawke (South Canterbury).

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