Rugby Union: Cashmore keeps Scots at bay

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Scotland XV 8

NZ Maoris 24

THERE IS nothing like international rugby; and what passed at Murrayfield yesterday afternoon was nothing like international rugby. In a literal sense it was never going to be, the contest having been designated non-cap status.

It was also nothing like the pre-Christmas internationals to which Murrayfield has become accustomed since the last New Zealand team played there. Unlike the All Blacks of '93, and the southern hemisphere sides which followed them, the 1998 Maoris failed to subject the flower of Scotland to an unceremonious wilting.

They won comfortably enough in the end, thanks to the 19 points contributed by Adrian Cashmore, second only to Grant Fox in the Auckland scoring records. But for 59 minutes the New Zealanders, 62-14 slaughterers of England at Rotorua in June, were unable to cross the Scottish try-line. Clad in unfamiliar mandarin colours, Scotland were unfamiliarly resolute if nothing else, losing the try count by a respectable 2-1.

"It's what's inside the jersey that matters, not what colour it is," Jim Telfer, Scotland's head coach, said before kick-off, anticipating a less than enthusiastic response to the alien hue.. Rather fittingly there were "aliens" filling two of the jerseys - Budge Pountney, whose Caledonian qualification amounts to his grandmother's birth in Jersey (which qualifies the Northampton open-side for any home nation of his choice) and Martin Leslie, claimed after just 40 minutes of rugby in Scotland, whose grandfather came from Linlithgow.

Leslie - as the son of the former All Black captain Andy Leslie - would probably have felt more at home in the visitors' camp yesterday. Not that the Maoris were short of talent. They did, though, stutter from the start, in the kind of conditions which prompted the 1888 Maoris to play the second half of one match on their pioneering tour in raincoats.

Scotland led from the second minute, with Derrick Lee's successful penalty conversion though, two subsequent attempts failed to regain the lead after Cashmore levelled the scores with his first pot at the posts. Errors crept into the Scottish defence before half-time, Cashmore landing two further penalties to give the tourists a 9-3 lead at the break.

Norm Berryman, meanwhile, was emerging as the most likely source of a breakthrough. The skull-capped and ponytailed wing was stopped just short of the Scottish line after one charge through the middle. Cashmore might have been first to break through, 10 minutes into the second-half, but was unsubtly taken out by Lee as he raced to gather his own garryowen on the left. The Aucklander kicked the penalty but Scotland's defences held firm until the 60th minute.

It was the barrell-chested Berryman who did the damage, taking an inside pass from stand-off Tony Brown and riding two challenges before affording Glen Marsh the luxury of a simple dive-over in front of the posts. Ten minutes later, the Maoris cut loose again, Cashmore scything through the home guard with an angled run which took him over the line on the left.

It was not to be a Caledonian capitulation, however. With two minutes left, Alan Tait, on as a replacement for Rowen Shepherd, orchestrated the best move of the match, twice coming into the line before feeding a scoring pass to Lee wide on the left. Scottish face was duly saved - for the time being at least. South Africa's visit will be a Test in every respect.

Scotland: D Lee (London Scottish); T Stanger (Edinburgh Reivers), J Mayer (Edinburgh Reivers), R Shepherd (Glasgow Caledonians), C Murray (Edinburgh Reivers); G Townsend (Brive), B Redpath (Edinburgh Reivers, capt); T Smith (Glasgow Caledonians), G Bulloch (Glasgow Caledonians), P Burnell (London Scottish), S Murray (Bedford), S Grimes (Glasgow Caledonians), R Wainwright (Glasgow Caledonians), E Peters (Bath), B Pountney (Northampton). Replacements: A Tait (Edinburgh Reivers) for Shepherd 73, D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers) for Townsend 61, M Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers) for Wainwright 61.

New Zealand Maoris: A Cashmore (Auckland); B Reihana (Waikato), C Ralph (Auckland), D Gibson (Canterbury), N Berryman (Northland); T Brown (Otago), R Duggan (Waikato); L Lidgard (Counties-Manukau), S McFarland (North Harbour), K Meeuws (Otago), N Maxwell (Canterbury), J Coe (Counties-Manukau), T Flavell (North Harbour), D Muir (Waikato, capt), G Marsh (Counties-Manukau). Replacements: L Macdonald (Canterbury) for Gibson 74, G Osborne (North Harbour) for Macdonald 80, J Akurangi (Counties-Manukau) for McFarland 78, G Feek (Taranaki) for Lidgard 78, H Makiri (Counties-Manukau) for Maxwell 80, R Cribb (North Harbour) for Coe 73.

Referee: S Lander (England)