Scotland are still waiting for their first win over New Zealand after a second-string All Blacks side cruised to victory in the Bank of Scotland Corporate Autumn Test at Murrayfield.
Sporting Life reports that Graham Henry’s side scored four tries through Anthony Tuitavake, Piri Weepu, Richard Kahui and Anthony Boric as they got their trip to the British Isles off to the perfect start.
The victory will further raise expectations that they can repeat their Grand Slam tour of 2006.
The heavy defeat was a significant blow to Frank Hadden’s hopes of gaining some momentum in the November Tests after a disappointing RBS 6 Nations Championship earlier this year.
The drawn series in Argentina during the summer was an encouraging step in the right direction but this was arguably Scotland’s best chance to enjoy success against New Zealand in the professional era, given Henry’s weakened selection.
Indeed only Stephen Donald, Ali Williams and Isaia Toeava started last Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup victory over Australia in Hong Kong and Henry handed first caps to Kieran Read, Liam Messam and Jamie Mackintosh.
But Scotland never looked likely to record a first win over the All Blacks, 103 years after the first match between the countries, as the pace and power of the visitors proved too much for a courageous but limited and error-prone Scotland team.
For his part, Hadden recalled Jason White – who has been plagued by knee and shoulder injuries – for his first Test start for nine months and the former captain was joined in the back row by Ally Hogg after Simon Taylor was ruled out with a calf strain.
Thom Evans edged out Rory Lamont and Simon Webster for a place on the right wing while Phil Godman, Ben Cairns and Nick de Luca formed an inexperienced, all-Edinburgh midfield.
Scotland actually made an encouraging start when captain Mike Blair caught the All Blacks off guard with a quick tap penalty and fed Chris Paterson, who was dragged down 10 yards short of the New Zealand line.
The All Blacks killed the ball, though, and with the straightforward resulting penalty Paterson kicked Scotland ahead in the third minute.
Their lead lasted just two minutes however as Donald replied with three points of his own after referee Wayne Barnes adjudged De Luca had intentionally kicked the ball out of a ruck.
The Edinburgh centre was sin-binned by the English official for his misdemeanour and Henry’s men quickly made use of their numerical advantage when a precise cross-field kick from Donald was collected by right-winger Tuitavake.
He shrugged off the desperate tackle of Paterson to touch down and Donald converted to give the visitors a 10-3 lead in the eighth minute.
Scotland saw out the rest of De Luca’s absence without further damage but were penalised for hauling down flanker Adam Thomson in a line-out at the midway point in the half, and Donald added another three points.
Paterson responded in kind when Jamie Mackintosh conceded a penalty in the scrum as a result of considerable pressure from Scotland prop Euan Murray.
New Zealand stretched their lead in the 26th minute with a try from Weepu which owed much to a terrific turnover in midfield from the impressive Boric.
After the inexperienced lock stripped Scotland of the ball it was spun wide to elegant centre Kahui and his chip-kick was eventually collected by Weepu.
Donald missed a relatively straightforward conversion chance and Paterson also faltered a minute later with a penalty as the visitors reached the half-hour mark 18-6 ahead.
Boric then blotted his copybook by coming in at the side of a ruck just three yards from his own line and was sin-binned by Barnes.
Scotland pinned the 14 men in black in their own half for most of the remainder of the half but costly errors – such as a rare knock-on from Blair – in addition to well-organised and efficient defence kept them at bay and preserved New Zealand’s 12-point lead.
That advantage was extended by seven points just 51 seconds into the new period when Paterson misjudged an up-and-under to allow Kahui to race clear and touch down under the posts.
Donald converted to make it 25-6 and to rub salt into Scotland’s wound, Sean Lamont – playing his first game for his country this year – injured his hamstring while chasing Kahui and had to be replaced by Hugo Southwell.
Cory Jane also entered the fray for New Zealand, replacing Toeava at full-back, and 15 minutes into the half Matt Mustchin and Alasdair Dickinson came on for Nathan Hines and Murray, while Weepu and Mackintosh were withdrawn in favour of Andy Ellis and Neemia Tialata.
The game was now extremely disjointed and a rare piece of good rugby saw rookie number eight Liam Messam break Scotland’s line and offload to Ellis – only for the replacement scrum-half to knock on with the line at his mercy.
The paucity of attractive rugby in the second half was demonstrated by the fact the introduction of superstar stand-off Dan Carter – 10 minutes after his captain Richie McCaw had entered the fray – elicited a loud cheer from the home crowd.
Boric capped a fine all-round performance – yellow card apart – when he dived over for New Zealand’s fourth try five minutes from the end following a speculative kick from Donald.
Man of the match: Stephen Donald was much more in control and directed play well while the untried loose forward combination of Adam Thomson, Kieran Read and Liam Messam proved sound and spirited against their more experienced rivals. But our vote goes to Richard Kahui who had a fine performance slipping the defences several times but also making some telling tackles.
Moment of the match: Take your pick from all four of the All Blacks tries – each one of them a masterpiece in their own right. But we’re taking a lighter side of the match when Dan Carter came off the bench to finish the game at… wait for it… scrum-half! Is there anything this man can’t do?
Villain of the match: Two yellow cards from both camps, but it was Edinburgh centre Nick De Luca’s misdemeanour that was more costly for his team after such a good start to the match. Thirteen points in total in his absence and Scotland never recovered.
Pens: Paterson 2
For New Zealand:
Tries: Tuitavake, Weepu, Kahui, Boric
Cons: Donald 2, Carter
Pens: Donald 2
Yellow cards: De Luca (Scotland, 2 min); Boric (New Zealand, 30 min)
Scotland: 15 Chris Paterson, 14 Thom Evans, 13 Ben Cairns, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Phil Godman, 9 Mike Blair (c), 8 Simon Taylor, 7 John Barclay, 6 Jason White, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobson,
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Matt Mustchin, 19 Scott Gray, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Dan Parks, 22 Hugo Southwell.
New Zealand: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Joe Rokocoko, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 Kieran Read, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Neemia Tialata, 18 Ross Filipo, 19 Riche McCaw, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Daniel Carter, 22 Cory Jane.