New Zealand. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
A SIDE picked with the principal intention of limiting the damage inflicted by the opposition so grievously damaged itself that New Zealand reached their biggest victory over the Scots with ease. And so the litany of disappointment, frustration and despair, of raised expectations and dashed hopes continues. All the breast-beating and tub-thumping in the wake of last Saturday's game at Old Anniesland was merely whistling in the dark.
The Scots were bewitched, bedazzled and ultimately bewildered by a side who scored seven tries, three of them by their 20-year-old right-wing Jeff Wilson, playing in his first international. Strange, isn't it, that a country, reputedly so boring and predictable, should so regularly produce wings of such virtuosity, and although all three tries in one way or another owed something to Scotland's frailties, Wilson's precocity and brilliance heralded a new star in New Zealand's packed firmament.
The deflowering of Scotland began with the first four line-outs, all of which went decisively to New Zealand. The line-out had been the launch- pad from which the Scots had hoped to prosper, but it was shot to pieces. So was their scrummage, in which Alan Watt at loose head never came to terms with Olo Brown's superior technique. Brown was also a massive presence in the loose, and it was from two of his charges that the All Blacks scored tries in the first half.
The mistakes which the Scots had sought to reduce proliferated in the face of the All Blacks' remorseless efficiency, and once again a failure to execute the game's fundamentals was laid bare. Having established such a cushion by half- time, the All Blacks spent the rest of the game indulging themselves and occasionally gambling beyond their means, with Stu Forster, a miniature genius at scrum-half, high on the adrenalin of adventure, directing behind the scrum.
Scotland's mastodons in the pack were helpless to compete and, their venom drawn in the tight, they were eventually overwhelmed in the loose, although their flankers Rob Wainwright and Dave McIvor kept going to the bitter end. Dougie Morgan, whose baptism this was as national coach, had said before the match that by the final whistle Scotland would know where they stood in the world order. Now they know, although by the end of the game the Scots were closer to the horizontal.
How the crowd in this magnificent new stadium would have relished a touch of wizardry from Gavin Hastings, but not even he could rise above the mediocre. His four penalty goals, struck from varying distances, did, however, keep the Scots from slipping too far out of sight until the final quarter.
Behind their bedraggled forwards, Andy Nicol and Craig Chalmers had little enough time to think let alone act, their creative powers restricted to the hit-and-hope tactics of those who have lost all confidence and conviction. Chalmers, the other Scottish points- scorer, went off towards the end of the game with what appeared to be a recurrence of the knee injury which has so restricted his activities this season.
Ian Jardine and Graham Shiel kept their nerve in the heat of the offensive battle which came at them wave after wave, but Scott Hastings betrayed his inexperience of wing play a couple of times. On both occasions Wilson scored, his first the result of Bunce's craftily weighted pass which he threaded through Hastings' flapping arms, the second when he accelerated on to John Timu's grub kick behind the defence. But given the dearth of wingers, the selectors were probably left with no alternatives, and no blame could be attached to Hastings for the result.
Some of the combined play of the All Blacks and their closely supported attacks were sublime. Exquisitely timed drives by the forwards, sweet passing and flat-out running by the backs. They revelled in the space, none more so than Marc Ellis, who still manages to kick like a centre playing fly-half, but with the ball in his hands is untouchable no matter where on the field he appears. He was all over the place yesterday, jinking this way and that through the Scottish cover and finding himself on the end of Matt Cooper's pass to score the first New Zealand try.
His second was more controversial and followed an appalling chapter of accidents in the Scottish back line. Cooper again made the initial breach, kicking through to the left wing. Ellis and Va'aiga Tuigamala gave chase, and Ellis was credited with the touchdown.
Cooper, once again kicking with lethal accuracy, converted two penalties and four of the seven tries, and it was no doubt with some consternation that the All Blacks' management watched him limp off the field two minutes from time to be replaced by Eroni Clarke. They will want Cooper to be fit for Twickenham next Saturday, although if the All Blacks play against England with the same dazzling authority they showed yesterday against the Scots, a goal-kicker will be a frivolous accessory.
Scotland: Penalties G Hastings 4, Chalmers. New Zealand: Tries Wilson 3, Ellis 2, Brooke, Bunce. Penalties Cooper 2; Conversions Cooper 4, Wilson.
SCOTLAND: G Hastings (Wastonians, capt); A Stanger (Hawick), I Jardine (Stirling County), G Shiel (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians); C Chalmers (Melrose), A Nicol (Dundee HSFP); A Watt (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), K Milne (Heriot's FP), P Burnell (London Scottish), D Cronin (London Scottish), A Macdonald (Heriot's FP), D McIvor (Edinburgh Academicals), G Weir (Melrose), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals). Replacements: B Redpath (Melrose), temporary replacement for Nicol, 3; K Logan (Stirling Co) temporary replacement for G Hastings, 36; D Wyllie (Stewart's Melville FP) for Chalmers, 59; C Hogg (Melrose) for Cronin, 62.
NEW ZEALAND: J Timu; J Wilson (both Otago), F Bunce (North Harbour), M Cooper (Waikato), V Tuigamala (Auckland); M Ellis, S Forster (both Otago); C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (capt), O Brown (all Auckland), S Gordon (Waikato), I Jones (North Auckland), J Joseph, A Pene (both Otago), Z Brooke (Auckland). Replacements: E Clarke (Auckland) for Cooper, 78.
Referee: F Burger (South Africa).
----------------------------------------------------------------- Match facts ----------------------------------------------------------------- TALE OF THE FORWARDS Scrums won: Scotland: 6. New Zealand: 5. (Void: 4.) Line-outs won: Scotland: 15. New Zealand: 14. (Void: 8.) Loose ball won: Scotland: 26. New Zealand: 39. TALE OF THE SCRUM-HALVES Andrew Nicol: received 34, ran 1, kicked 5, passed 28. Stu Foster: received 48, ran 5, kicked 11, passed 32. TALE OF THE FLY-HALVES Craig Chalmers: received 16, ran 0, kicked 10, passed 6. Marc Ellis: received 33, ran 6, kicked 10, passed 11. PENALTIES AWARDED To Scotland: 17. To New Zealand: 9. POSSESSION Scotland: 35 %. New Zealand: 65 %. MINUTES IN OPPONENTS' HALF Scotland: 24 . New Zealand: 56. -----------------------------------------------------------------
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