Scotland need big improvement

Northland 15 Scotland 10
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The Independent Online
Scotland yesterday lost their second match on the tour of New Zealand when they succumbed 15-10 to Northland in Whangerei. Five penalties from Warren Johnston were enough to dispatch the Scots, despite a try from Kenny Logan in reply.

On the evidence of a scrappy, rain-lashed match, Scotland have much to do before next month's two Tests against the All Blacks on 15 June in Dunedin and on 22 June in Auckland. Their only consolation came when Logan scored the game's solitary try in the closing minutes, running on to a pass from Gary Armstrong.

For most of the game, the Scots failed to take advantage of ample possession and let themselves down by fumbling passes and conceding too many penalties. They notched up 19 handling errors to Northland's 11.

Northland led 6-3 at half-time in a match that, despite the drizzle, attracted 12,000 spectators. The defeat by the Second Division outfit ended Scotland's hopes of emulating their 1990 predecessors, who went through their tour unbeaten by provincial sides.

The Scots, looking ring-rusty, failed to impose themselves on the game. "It was a disappointing performance. We will now have to look into several aspects of our play. We have no-one to blame but ourselves," Richie Dixon, the Scotland coach, said.

Scotland, for much of the game over-anxious, struggled in the line-out and behind the scrum, with the half-backs Gary Armstrong and Craig Chalmers failing to sparkle, though the new recruit Ron Eriksson was singled out for praise by Jim Telfer, the team manager .

The hard-running Eriksson made partial dents in the Northland defence on several occasions, and it was he who fastened on to Chalmers' high kick before the ball was swept left for Logan on the wing to go over two minutes from time. The touchdown was converted by Rowen Shepherd, who had earlier landed a penalty.

Scotland have only four days to effect improvements before facing Waikato, a First Division club, in Hamilton.

Northland: Penalties Johnston 5. Scotland: Try Logan; Conversion Shepherd; Penalty Shepherd.

Northland: W Johnston; H Taylor, M Going, N Berryman, B Reid; D Holwell, S Moore; J Campbell (capt), B Waaka, N Maxwell, A Gibbs, G Taylor, T Fukofuka, D Te Puni, L Davies.

SCOTLAND: R Shepherd (Melrose); A Stanger (Hawick), S Hastings (Watsonians), K Logan (Stirling County), R Eriksson (London Scottish); C Chalmers (Melrose), G Armstrong (Newcastle); B Renwick (Hawick), I Smith (Newcastle), G Weir (Newcastle), S Campbell (Dundee HSFP), R Wainwright (Watsonians, capt), P Wright (Boroughmuir), D Ellis (Currie), T Smith (Watsonians).