Rugby Union: Mediocre Scots feel the pinch

Scotland 8 New Zealand Maoris 24
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The Independent Online
WITHIN THE pages of his autobiography, Alan Tait recalls being wounded in the line of national duty and refused permission to withdraw from the heat of battle by Scotland's physiotherapist. "I couldn't help thinking it was to save a pounds 1,000 match fee for a substitute," he ponders.

The Scottish Rugby Union can hardly afford the sum Tait will pocket for coming off the bench at Murrayfield on Saturday. Some pounds 17m in debt and with the executive chairman, Duncan Paterson, seemingly on borrowed time, the Union is neither healthy nor wealthy.

The same can be said of the Scotland team, who can ill afford to lose Tait. In the seven minutes he played on Saturday, the veteran centre orchestrated the one high note of an otherwise flat non-cap international. Twice he came into the line, threading a needle-sharp cross-field three- quarters' move before flighting a pin-point pass for Derrick Lee to score Scotland's consolation try in the left corner.

Although subdued, the New Zealand Maoris had two men in Norm Berryman and Adrian Cash who stood apart from the Murrayfield mediocrity.

Berryman, 17st 4lb and the son of a New Zealand Maori rugby league international, forged the try-scoring breakthrough on the hour, bullocking through the middle before feeding Glen Marsh in front of the posts. Cashmore claimed the second try 10 minutes later, slicing through with an angled run, as well as landing five kicks.

So bare is the Caledonian cupboard, Budge Pountney was in the back row due to his Jersey grandmother qualifying him for any of the home nations and he was joined there by Martin Leslie, the son of former All Black Andy Leslie, who has a grandfather from Linlithgow. Scottish rugby is grateful for any contributions it can get.

Scotland: Try Lee; Penalty Lee. New Zealand Maoris: Tries Marsh, Cashmore; Conversion Cashmore; Penalties Cashmore 4.

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: D Weir (Newcastle Falcons) for Grimes, 56; M Leslie (Edinburgh Reivers) for Wainwright, 61; D Hodge (Edinburgh Reivers) for Townsend, 61; D Hilton (Bath) for Burnell, 67.

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: R Cribb (North Harbour) for Coe, 73; L MacDonald (Canterbury) for Gibson, 74; Feek for Lidgard 78; J Akurangi (Counties-Manukau) for McFarland, 78; H Makiri (Counties- Manukau) for Maxwell, 80; G Osborne for L MacDonald, 80.

Referee: S Lander (England).