Rugby Union: Flashing blades a class apart

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The Independent Online
WINNING by a record score, the All Blacks continued to cast their dark shadow over Scotland, who have still to beat them in 17 internationals. If the margin of victory was something of a shock, the result was not. At the Scottish training session on the eve of the game, Ian Robertson, the former outside half, threw a ball at Scott Hastings and said: 'If I were you, I'd take it on the field with you, as you may not see the ball tomorrow.'

It was a prescient comment. Scotland were drowned by a surging tide of All Black jerseys, who hit the rucks in a manner which no British team can match. Throughout the game, the All Black fires burned, their cauldron bubbled and it was no single dagger the Scots saw before them but 15 flashing All Black blades.

The New Zealanders were at their apocalyptic best, a familiar power game winning an endless stream of possession, and once won, the ball was jealously guarded. These All Blacks are growing in stature by the day, and have distilled their game down to the basic elements of possession, surging power and intimidation, with errors cut to a minimum.

Neither were these All Blacks upset by the recent critical comments about their liberal use of the boot in the rucks. Yesterday there was not a single incident to which even the most squeamish could object.

There was much to admire; rucking perfection supported by surging attacks which brought the visitors seven glorious tries, three of them scored in an insouciant manner by the 20-year-old prodigy Jeff Wilson. He received only a pat on the back from the older hands; the All Blacks don't go in for hugs and kisses.

Then there were the sublime skills of such as Zinzan Brooke, the breaking and vision of the diminutive scrum half Stu Forster, the speed of Marc Ellis, and the strength of Bunce, Cooper and Tuigamala.

Scotland's forebodings that their pack are not up to world class rugby were entirely fulfilled. Only Rob Wainwright measured up to the All Blacks, while behind the scrum at least Gavin Hastings was in majestic form. He must have been crushed by the ineffectiveness of his forwards.

Scotland can only console themselves with the thought that no British side can match these classy All Blacks.