Auckland . . .27
SEAN LINEEN, the Scotland centre, saw his one remaining rugby ambition evaporate in injury time at Meggetland last night when a runaway try by the left wing Rome Taikmalietane gave Auckland victory over Edinburgh.
Lineen had rescinded a decision to retire from representative rugby specifically in the hope of achieving the win that had eluded him in seven previous encounters during his New Zealand provincial career.
It seemed the big moment had finally arrived when, with two minutes remaining, Derek Stark sidestepped over from a blindside thrust by Derek Patterson and Gavin Hastings's angled conversion put Edinburgh ahead for the first time.
Edinburgh, however, had reckoned without the tourists launching one last desperate attack, which ended with Taikmalietane eluding the desperate cover tackles of Stuart Reid, Cameron Glasgow and Gavin Hastings to romp clear from half-way. The crowd, meanwhile, were in uproar, believing the vital pass was at least a yard forward.
At least Lineen scored a try against his old adversaries to launch an Edinburgh revival after it had seemed they would be blown away by Auckland's breathtaking counter attacks and support play. Edinburgh were caught by two early sucker punches leading to tries by Jason Hewett and Jeremy Stanley and, soon after half-time, Taikmalietane notched a third.
Edinburgh, with Kenny Milne in superb form and Andy Macdonald enjoying a significant line-out edge, did, however, send out a signal to the rest of Scotland on the eve of the All Blacks tour that New Zealand sides are not superhuman. Indeed, the Blacks coach, Laurie Mains, accompanied by the captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, arrived as Cameron Rackham missed a simple conversion.
Edinburgh: Tries Lineen, Stark; Conversion: G Hastings; Penalties: G Hastings 3. Auckland: Tries Hewett, Stanley, Taikmalietane 2; Conversions: Rackham 2; Penalty Rackham.
EDINBURGH: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); D Stark (Boroughmuir), S Hastings (Watsonians), S Lineen (Boroughmuir), C Glasgow (Heriot's FP); A Donaldson (Currie), D Patterson (Edinburgh Acads); G Wilson (Boroughmuir), K Milne, S Paul (Heriot's FP), J Richardson (Edinburgh Acads), A Macdonald (Heriot's FP), B Ward (Currie), S Reid (Boroughmuir), D Mack (Currie).
AUCKLAND: A Uluinayau, W Sotutu, J Stanley, C Adams, R Taikmalietane, C Rackham, J Hewett, K Nepia, N Mantell, K Meeus, C Riehelmann, H Bond, D Mika, P Lam (capt), S Tatupu.
Referee: S Piercy (Goole).