Williams claims he still has a lot to learn despite giving Scots a masterclass
Scotland 3 New Zealand 49
Monday 15 November 2010
If Andy Robinson and Scotland could turn back time, maybe they could do something about the Sonny and share performance that stole the show at Murrayfield on Saturday evening. Then again, such was the sleight of hand with which Sonny Bill Williams distributed possession to his team-mates, perhaps the bamboozled hosts and their head coach would need the services of Harry Potter (who might qualify for Scotland on grounds of school residence) to counter the All Black magic that the rugby league convert brought to bear on his second appearance for the world's No 1 rugby union nation.
Much has been made of the stature of the Crusaders' centre and his 6ft 4in and 17st frame did come in useful when he took a flat pass from scrum-half Jimmy Cowan and made the first serious dent in the Scottish defence. It was the one-handed off-load that did the real damage, though. Out of the side-door rather than the back, it furnished the supporting Hosea Gear with such swift possession that the left wing was over the whitewash for the first of New Zealand's seven tries – nine minutes into what proved to be a non-contest – before the Scots knew what had hit them.
It was the same nine minutes into the second half. Scotland had time to man the ramparts when Cowan threw a loose pass to Dan Carter, the outside-half stooping to pick the ball off the floor. When it was fed on to Williams, though, no sooner had the big centre drawn Hugo Southwell towards him than the ball was out of the side door, one-handed again, and into the arms of Mils Muliaina who was left with an unopposed run to the line.
The Scots had been warned. After all, Williams performed his party-piece off-load on his All Black debut at Twickenham, at outside-centre – in the build-up to Gear's try in that 26-16 victory. This time, playing at inside rather than outside-centre, he pulled it out of the hat at every opportunity, flummoxing his own team-mates just the once. "I'm a work in progress," Williams maintained afterwards. "There are still things I need to work on."
For Sonny Bill and the rest of Graham Henry's All Blacks, it is on to Dublin now for leg three of their European Grand Slam bid. For the Scots, in the wake of a record margin of defeat against New Zealand on home soil, there is much to work on before the Springboks roll up on Saturday.
Scotland: Penalty Parks. New Zealand: Tries Gear 2, Carter, Muliaina 2, Smith, Ellis. Conversions Carter 5, Donald 2.
Scotland H Southwell; R Lamont (N Walker, h-t), M Evans, G Morrison, S Lamont; D Parks (R Jackson, 68), M Blair (capt, G Laidlaw, 39); A Jacobsen, R Ford (S Lawson, 65), E Murray (A Dickinson, 20-32, 65), R Gray, J Hamilton (N Hines, h-t), K Brown ( R Rennie, 65), R Vernon, J Barclay.
New Zealand M Muliaina; I Toeava, C Smith, S B Williams, H Gear; D Carter (S Donald, 50), J Cowan (A Ellis, 59); T Woodcock, H Elliot (A Hore, 61), O Franks (J Afoa, 54), B Thorn (A Boric, 58), S Whitelock, L Messam, R McCaw (capt, D Braid, 58), K Read.
Referee: D Pearson (England).
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