Rugby Union: Scots take heart from bold display

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Scotland Development XV 12 New Zealand 31

SIMPLY by not being stuffed out of sight at Myreside yesterday, Scotland's third string gave further encouragement to their seniors for Saturday's Test at Murrayfield. Or so the theory keeps going up here. Yet however beatable they keep proving themselves to be, the All Blacks are still unbeaten.

These were their dirt-trackers, with only two or three at most of this side having much of a chance of instant preferment, and it was not a performance to strike terror into anyone, still less after the haka had been drowned out by an announcer with the sense of timing of the English at Bannockburn. This time no blood was curdled.

But even the less awesome All Blacks never actually looked like losing, certainly not once Shane Howarth had answered the presumption of Kent Bray's early penalty by equalising within a minute. The peril is that the Scots, remembering last Wednesday's 84-5 thrashing of the South, will go overboard just because such humiliation was not repeated.

First their A team driving the Test All Blacks to distraction - though not, of course, to defeat - and now the developers, a euphemism if ever there was one for the hoary likes of Neil Edwards. After Galashiels, this was euphoric, which is precisely what worries Johnny Brown, coach of yesterday's Scottish team.

'After last week it was a win, was it not?' he said, instantly emphasising the deliberate irony of the remark. 'We have to set our sights higher. There is a sense of euphoria around but the euphoria comes from relief. It's more than relief we want.' Even so, for this relief Brown gives much thanks. He was also coach of South of Scotland.

This time his side remained more or less in touch thanks to the penalty-kicking of Bray, though the Harlequin hardly looked the full McCoy as an outside-half after the withdrawal of Ally Donaldson with food-poisoning. Scarcely surprising since Bray is Australian.

He had not had any sort of run- out with his half-back partner, the combative Derek Patterson, and when the Scots' failure to take any decent line-out ball for more than an hour is also taken into consideration, small wonder their try-threatening was minimal. Instead they settled for tackling all afternoon and Bray landed four goals from six.

Shane Howarth kicked six from nine for New Zealand, whose tries came from Eric Rush and Liam Barry in the first half and acting captain John Mitchell - twice warned for dangerous play by Gordon Black - in the second. There they had to leave it, partly because of their own attacking pedestrianism and partly because of the defensive resolution of their opponents.

More interestingly than may seem obvious, the game was watched by the Scotland team, who had gathered out of town at Dalmahoy during the morning and will now stay together until the Test match. Nowadays rules are apparently there to be broken north of the border as much as elsewhere.

International Rugby Board regulations permit non-touring teams only 72 hours in each other's company before an international, but this will be more like 100, an example of extreme flexibility from the union that complained when Welsh players were spotted on television wearing outsize sponsors' logos. The Welsh Rugby Union is expected to be on the phone to the IRB any day now.

Scotland XV: Penalties Bray 4. New Zealand: Tries Rush, Barry, Mitchell; Conversions Howarth 2; Penalties Howarth 4.

SCOTLAND DEVELOPMENT XV: C Glasgow (Heriot's FP); D Stark (Boroughmuir), F Harrold (London Scottish), R MacNaughton (Northampton), C Dalgleish (Gala); K Bray (Harlequins), D Patterson (Edinburgh Academicals); J Manson (Dundee HSFP), J Hay (Hawick, capt), D Herrington (Dundee HSFP), N Edwards (Northampton), S Campbell (Dundee HSFP), P Walton (Northampton), F Wallace (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), I Smith (Gloucester). Replacement: S McIntosh (West of Scotland) for Stark, 56.

NEW ZEALAND: S Howarth (Auckland); J Wilson (Otago), E Clarke, L Stensness (Auckland), E Rush (North Harbour); S Bachop (Otago), J Preston (Wellington); M Allen (Taranaki), N Hewitt (Hawke's Bay), G Purvis (Waikato), B Larsen (North Harbour), R Fromont (Auckland), J Joseph (Otago), J Mitchell (Waikato, capt), L Barry (North Harbour).

Referee: G Black (Ireland).