Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 22-51 New Zealand

New Zealand ultimately showed their class and cutting edge on Sunday at Murrayfield to see off a Scotland side that were competitive, but lacking in discipline and incisiveness.

The All Blacks’ big guns of Dan Carter and Richie McCaw produced a masterclass to effectively put the game out of sight within a 10 minute spell late in the first half, with Carter in particular producing some majestic slight of hand and footwork to cut the Scottish defence to shreds.

The customary pre-match optimism manifested itself in a huge roar of support before the kick off, and once Sir Chris Hoy had placed the ball in the centre circle, it was game on.

Straight from their own kick off, New Zealand won the ball back and forced a penalty which Dan Carter duly slotted and the All Blacks were into the simplest of 3-0 leads.

With another penalty, Carter missed his only kick of the day after 10 minutes amidst unsavoury booing from the Murrayfield crowd and it stayed 3-0.

And then after 13 minutes, the Scottish crowd were brought to their feet.

The All Blacks had been going through the phases on half way but in what was to be one of very few mistakes for Carter, he threw a pass straight into the hands of Matt Scott who raced away and handed on to Tim Visser to finish. Laidlaw converted and Scotland led 7-3.

The next few minutes saw Scotland hold out in the face of New Zealand pressure inside their own 22, but the All Blacks just kept coming and a brilliant break from Carter opened up the defence. From the resulting phases a shoulder injury to Ross Rennie produced more space for Carter to slice through again and offload to Israel Dagg for New Zealand’s first try.

Scotland began to threaten again, but more mistakes stifled the attacking flow they had. Despite this, after 24 minutes Greg Laidlaw slotted a penalty to take the score back to 10-10.

The All Blacks were starting to get into their stride though and it took some good scrambling defence from Scotland to stop a score in the left hand corner after excellent offloading from the New Zealand backline.

Another Carter penalty made it 13-10 before the speed at which the All Blacks recycled the ball just became too much for Scotland and winger Julian Savea finished off a simple through the hands move in the left hand corner, which Carter converted.

After half an hour the visitors led 20-10 and it was to be the start of a period of play which effectively ended the game for Scotland. New Zealand’s next try came only a few minutes later: more exhibition-class sleight of hand, and brilliant support play saw Cory Jane end another sweeping move in the right hand corner. Scotland simply could not regroup quickly enough in defence. Carter once again slotted the kick as the Murrayfield crowd realised booing the best player in the world is an exercise in futility.

New Zealand were running rampant at this point, threatening every time they went forward and their lead became unassailable with their final try of the first half. The Scots were falling off tackles and their defence just did not look aggressive enough as hooker Andrew Hore bundled his way over on the right hand side, again after almost Sevens like ball retention, to make it 34-10.

It could have been easy for Scotland to lie down in the last few minutes of the first half but they took it to the All Blacks and went through the phases picking and going and rumbling towards the New Zealand try line. After a review by the TMO it was decided a charge from Matt Scott had ended in the ball being held up. However with a penalty advantage Scotland still had time to tap and go and after another barrage by the forwards Geoff Cross squeezed over to make it 34-17 at half time.

Scotland needed to come out and dominate the opening exchanges in the second half and to the delight of the crowd they did. After being camped in the New Zealand half for the best part of 10 minutes, opting to go for the corner whenever a penalty was awarded, they finally got a reward for some hard graft. And after Adam Thompson was sin-binned for shoeing Al Strokosch, Laidlaw popped the ball out of a ruck with his boot which was gathered by Mike Blair and handed on to the waiting Visser who ran in unopposed for the second time. With the conversion missed it was 34-22 to New Zealand and we thought maybe, just maybe.

Carter immediately responded from the kick off with a penalty to open up the score to 37-22 before Scotland once again kicked to the corner to go for another rumble to the New Zealand try line. However the men in black soaked up the pressure and essentially Scotland’s efforts came to nothing this time.

By this point after 20 minutes of the second half Scotland had almost had all the possession, but it was the All Blacks who got on the scoreboard with Carter again the inspiration after yet another Ford error from the lineout. A chip across field bounced perfectly into the arms of Julian Savea saw the left winger cruise in for a try after stepping Stuart Hogg.

The Scots continued to waste possession and territory with knock ons and penalties for not releasing the ball and it wasn’t long before the All Blacks clinically took advantage of one of their few forays into Scotland territory in the second half. From a lineout on the Scots 22, New Zealand moved through a few phases before that man Carter again glided through the defence again, effectively taking out 4 Scottish defenders with his footwork before handing on to centre Ben Smith for New Zealand’s sixth try.

Scotland had one last attack but again bad handling saw the ball go out of the play and the game come to an end.

New Zealand had this game won by half time but Scotland should take heart from the 3 tries scored today. However, the number of basic errors and wasted opportunities in the second half especially will frustrate the team. New Zealand had two opportunities in the second half and took 14 points away. Scotland could only dream of being that clinical.

On the plus side, the Scottish pack stood up well to the All Blacks and they will take plenty of confidence into the South Africa game next week. New Zealand are a cut above anyone right now and showed it with some magical handling and support play that took Scotland’s back line to pieces.  Rennie going off in the first half meant the speed of the All Blacks recycling at ruck time went unchallenged and the 3 tries before they scored shortly after that killed Scotland.

It wasn’t the worst I’ve felt leaving Murrayfield and I say bring on the Boks next week.

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15 Responses

  1. I think we all know who the real hero was on Sunday. Hats off to you Girth. If Murray replaces you on Saturday you would be right to feel hard done by. Go Girth!

  2. After the game thoughts everyone. I thing Grey had a good game and I loved Kelly as captain. I think he really inspired the guys and was a great leader. Shame about rennie going off so early as I thought that changed the break down quite a bit.

    Would maybe like hogg at 13 as he didnt get the ball much but not sure if his defence could handle it. Blair and laidlaw played well but I am still not sure about laidlaws controll of a game epscially when it comes to tactical kicking.

    Forwards did great with Ryan grant having a stormer I thought but the AB scrum did look a little cheaty (not really a word but you get the gist).

    Visser was exactly what we needed but I felt lamont didnt have the best game so maybe Evens for the SA test.

    On the whole, a great performance against the best in side in the world.

    Well done Scotland!

  3. I know a lot of people thought that this was the best match of the weekend because although Scotland were well defeated it was reasonably competitive at different spells. The ABs are in a different class and will not be beaten on this tour. Scotland should take confidence from this match and given the home advantage should now be expecting to beat SA. Things they need to improve:
    – patience … they had some great field position on the AB line and should have kept the ball close. We have great ball carriers now in the forwards. We need to take five/seven points in these positions. No excuses.
    – execution at set plays … the line out continues to be a problem when we need it most. If Ford is feeling dizzy he needs to have ‘go to’ throw which he will hit. Time and again, we have seen momentum shift when Scotland lose their line out
    – faster ball …. they don’t do a stat on the TV which records average recycle time at the breakdown, but Scotland’s ball must have been a good deal slower than AB. We have got to use forward momentum to our advantage and this means speeding it up. I would make this a key metric for ARs analysts
    On the whole, we looked good and with strength in depth now. Bring on the Boks!

    1. We did as you say have some great field position but it frustrated me that all we could do was pick and go. NZ lapped that up defensively because they knew we didn’t have the confidence in ourselves to send it out to our back line to have a go. Correct- we need to be coming away with points, especially when you look at our territory stats for the second half.

  4. Injury Update: Ross Rennie, the Scotland openside flanker, dislocated his shoulder and will now be in the care of a specialist surgeon to map out his recovery in the weeks ahead.

    Team doctor James Robson said this afternoon: “Ross was seen and treated at the stadium yesterday by Graham Lawson, consultant orthopaedic surgeon. He has been reviewed today at Spire Murrayfield Hospital and will now be in the care of shoulder specialist Julie McBirnie for further assessment, which will give us a better indication of his rehabilitation schedule.”

    Dr Robson added: “In addition to Ross’s injury there is the usual array of assorted soft tissue disruption associated with Test match rugby of yesterday’s intensity.

    “As ever, 48 hours post a match of such physicality will give us a better indication of how players are recovering.”

    Among the Scotland casualties are props Geoff Cross (ribs) and Ryan Grant (back), hooker Scott Lawson (shoulder), lock Jim Hamilton (dead leg), centres Matt Scott (shoulder) and Nick De Luca (calf) and wing Tim Visser (flank).

    Scotland’s next rugby training session is tomorrow afternoon.

    1. I’d say that moving a non-tackling winger into the centre would do the complete oppposte of give confidence. There is no doubt that Visser is a world class finisher, and is exactly what Scotland have lacked for x many years, but his all round rugby technique and skills are somewhat lacking, and far from world class. Can’t criticise him for what he does well though!

  5. Is he really such a poor tackler with poor technique? Maybe I’m getting a bit over excited here but his defence seems alright to me.

  6. Team just in – Murray for Cross and Denton for Rennie. Fairly predictable. Cross did well ball in hand but was under pressure in the scrum and fell off tackles. SA going to be more of a physical challenge than NZ so need solidity up front.

  7. After the citing of Thompson has anyone seen the attempt by Ellison to pop Ryan Grant’s shoulder?! Far far more serious in a disgusting bit of play. Those of you who have recorded the game can see it at 7mins 30secs into the game on the clock. Fortunately Visser breaks it up. Grant is no where near the ball and you can see Ellison go out his way and try and dislocate Grant’s shoulder. How has this not been cited?! Dymock, get on it!

  8. So the word around the world after scotland lost to TONGA, to beat scotland just give them the ball

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion