Rugby Union: Blacks flanker escapes action over stamping

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Scotland A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

THE pre-planned public relations exercise before they left home is a good deal easier for these All Blacks away from the immediate sting of battle. Before the match, they strolled around the Glasgow High School ground at Old Anniesland happily signing the youngsters' books, but during it there was further evidence that they are not averse to autographing opposition heads when the mood is upon them.

The Philip de Glanville affair has already, to some, given a slightly different slant to the concept of the All Blacks routinely taking scalps (the New Zealanders have agreed a date next Sunday to discuss rucking techniques with English rugby officials) and but for the collective myopia of the appointed officials here on Saturday, the tourists would have ended this game with 14 men.

Jamie Joseph, the Otago flanker, gratuitously stamped on the head of his opposite number, Dave McIvor, during a second-half ruck. More by luck than judgement, it resulted in only a glancing blow, but it was a clear sending-off offence and if the referee, England's Tony Spreadbury, could be partially exonerated for not spotting it, the same could not be said of the touch judge on the main stand side, Bill Calder, of Scotland.

The entire side of the ground howled in indigation when Joseph went in with the boot, with the exception of the one person entitled to bring it to the attention of the referee. 'The whole ground saw it didn't they?' David Johnston, one of the Scotland A coaches, said afterwards. Apparently not.

Otherwise, it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, not least for those Scots who had witnessed the match at Galashiels in midweek. On that occasion, the Scots did not so much bare their teeth as pop the dentures into a bedside glass and turn out the light, though on Saturday they not only recaptured some national pride, but if they had matched the All Blacks' kicking (of the ball, that is) they might conceivably have won.

Gary Parker missed three fairly straightforward penalties until he was replaced by Michael Dods, while the Scots' tactical kicking was as near to hopeless as makes no difference. This was particularly galling for a highly committed set of forwards. Unlike Wednesday's lot, who would not have had terribly long careers as Glasgow night-club bouncers, the A team pack had plenty of physical presence, but not much was made of the ball they won, even allowing for the Blacks' iron defence.

The New Zealanders, in fact, are not as big up front as they usually are, and if Scotland's forwards can take the game to the tourists as their A team pack did here, the referee is less tolerant of the All Blacks' flirtation with the offside line, and the Scots can kick their goals, there is a slim chance of a close game at Murrayfield next Saturday.

The All Blacks, speedy and efficient though they are, are not a breathtakingly good side and that 84-5 scoreline on Wednesday ought to be taken in the perspective that the South were indescribably awful. The tourists have problems in the line-out, and the A team's back row were at least their equal in the loose.

Matthew Cooper also showed that he is not totally infallible with the boot, missing four kicks, and the All Black midfield was sufficiently uninspiring to draw specific criticism from the coach, Laurie Mains. Marc Ellis, who scored the one try of the game after a slick counter-attack, has a turbo-charger in his boots and his pace may be better employed in the centre, with Steve Bachop at outside-half.

Same old story, is it not? First, list the areas in which the All Blacks look vulnerable, then look at the scoreline.

Scotland A: Penalty Dods; Drop goals Wyllie 2. New Zealand: Try Ellis; Penalties Cooper 5.

SCOTLAND A: M Dods (Gala); K Logan (Stirling County), S Nichol (Selkirk), I Jardine (Stirling County), G Parker (Melrose); D Wyllie (Stewart's / Melville, capt), B Redpath (Melrose); A Watt ( Glasgow High / Kelvinside), K McKenzie (Stirling County), D Herrington (Heriot's FP), S Munro (GHK), A MacDonald (Heriot's FP), D McIvor (Edingburgh Academicals), C Hogg (Melrose), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals).

NEW ZEALAND: J Timu (Otago); J Wilson (Otago), F Bunce (North Harbour), M Cooper (Waikato), V Tuigamala (Auckland); M Ellis (Otago), S Forster (Otago); C Dowd (Auckland), S Fitzpatrick (Auckland, capt), O Brown (Auckland), I Jones (North Auckland), S Gordon (Waikato), J Joseph (Otago), A Pene (Otago), P Henderson (Southland). Replacements: M Allen (Taranaki) for Dowd, 15; B Larsen (North Harbour) for Gordon, 30.

Referee: A Spreadbury (England).

(Photograph omitted)