All Blacks break Scottish hearts with late rally
MATCH REPORT: New Zealand held out for almost an hour of fierce Scottish raids, but two late tries saw them score a deserved 31-23 win at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Outscoring their hosts by four tries to two, it was burly lock Scott Barrett (in the 67th minute) and wing Mark Telea (75th minute) that sealed the win.
The All Blacks raced into a 14-0 lead in a blistering opening 10 minutes.
However, it all changed in an instant – when centre Anton Lienert-Brown was yellow-carded after a moment of madness, tackling an opponent off the ball.
It not only resulted in his team being a man down for 10 minutes, but the resulting penalty try also lifted Scottish spirits.
By the time he returned, the game had been turned on its head and the home team was in control.
It was more than 50 minutes later before the Kiwi team scored again – the Scots leading 23-14, before a Jordie Barrett penalty signalled the turning of the tide.
The rest, as they say, are history.
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Scotland was left to rue a series of wasted opportunities, after the defeat left them still waiting for a historic first win over the All Blacks.
The visitors looked set to cruise to a 30th win in 32 meetings between the sides when they raced into a 14-0 lead after just seven minutes thanks to tries from Samisoni Taukei’aho and Mark Telea.
But the Kiwis failed to add another point for 55 minutes as Scotland took control, with Finn Russell pulling the strings on his return after being controversially left out by Gregor Townsend for Scotland’s first two year-end internationals against Australia and Fiji.
Scotland hit back to level inside 15 minutes as Stuart Hogg forced a penalty try before Darcy Graham intercepted an errant pass to cross in the corner before a trio of Russell penalties put the hosts in command.
But New Zealand was much more clinical when their chances came in the final 20 minutes – as Scott Barrett muscled over, before Telea rounded off a dream debut with his second try of the match.
There were emotional scenes at a sold-out Murrayfield before kick-off as Scottish international Doddie Weir, who is suffering from motor neurone disease, was introduced to the crowd alongside his family.
The crowd were quickly quietened as New Zealand looked set to pick up where they left off in thrashing Wales 55-23 last weekend.
Taukei’aho barreled over the line for the opening try after just two minutes.
Telea did not take long to make his mark on the international stage as he had acres of space to latch onto Jordie Barrett’s perfectly judged cross-field kick.
Hogg hit out at his critics for concentrating too much on his appearance rather than his rugby this week and the Exeter fullback produced the moment of magic needed to get Murrayfield off their feet.
A penalty try was awarded and a yellow card was shown to Anton Lienert-Brown for a tackle off the ball after Hogg looked favourite to collect his chip and chase into the in-goal area.
Scotland took just two minutes to level thanks to another Kiwi error as Graham intercepted David Havili’s intended pass to Beauden Barrett and just had the speed to evade Caleb Clarke and Jordie Barrett to the line.
Russell’s vision and Hogg’s speed teed up Graham to cross over once more in the corner, but the Edinburgh wing had just placed one foot into touch.
Scotland’s missed chances
Scotland was left to rue more missed opportunities either side of half-time as they were penalised three times by Irish referee Frank Murphy on the New Zealand line.
But Russell’s goal-kicking was flawless as three penalties put Scotland 23-14 ahead.
New Zealand had barely been inside the Scottish 22 for the first 20 minutes of the second half, but Ian Foster’s replacements had the desired effect for the three-time world champions.
Jordie Barrett reduced the arrears to six with a penalty before it was Scotland’s turn to cope with 14 men for 10 minutes.
Jack Dempsey was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on with New Zealand hammering on the door beneath the Scottish posts.
The All Blacks wasted no time in making the man advantage count as Scott Barrett muscled his way over the line.
His brother Jordie added the extras and with 13 minutes left, New Zealand had their first lead since the blistering opening quarter of an hour.
Telea then made sure of a sixth consecutive win for New Zealand since losing six times in eight Tests on either side of the turn of the year.
Man of the match: There will be plenty of people asking how South African officials allowed Pierre Schoeman to drop through the cracks and become available for Scotland. Captain Jamie Ritchie, as was expected also stepped up in a big way. Fullback Stuart Hogg showed great vision and caused problems with the ball in hand. Scotland’s most productive player was controversial flyhalf Finn Russell, who easily won his contest with Beauden Barrett. Captain Samuel Whitelock, prop Nepo Laulala and hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho put in huge shifts on defence. Dalton Papali’i was another productive forward, who was close to winning our award. Codie Taylor, George Bower and Thomas Perenara all made a huge impact off the bench – Perenara even won a crucial breakdown in the final minute. The @rugby365com award goes to All Black No.8 Ardie Savea – who, as always, put his enormous engine into top gear. Not only did he win some crucial turnovers, his 13 carries produced 60-odd metres, he beat three defenders and his tackle count was also into double digits.
Moment of the match: The first big moment was the penalty try in the 12th minute, which sparked the Scotland comeback from a 14-point deficit. However, of more significance was the Jack Dempsey yellow card in the 65th minute (for a cynical foul, a deliberate knock-on). It not only allowed the All Blacks to reclaim the lead after an agonising hour of Scottish dominance, but by the time he returned the game was all over as a contest. He left with his team leading 23-17 and returned withy them trailing 23-31.
Tries: Penalty try, Graham
Cons: Penalty try does not require a conversion, Russell
Pen: Russell 3
For New Zealand
Tries: Taukei’aho, Telea 2, S Barrett
Cons: J Barrett 4
Pens: J Barrett
Yellow cards: Anton Lienert-Brown (New Zealand, 12 – cynical foul, tackling player off the ball in the in-goal area), Jack Dempsey (Scotland, 65 – cynical foul, deliberate knock-on)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Ben White, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Mark Bennett.
New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Thomas Perenara, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Rieko Ioane
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) & Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Tom Foley (Ireland)
* Additional reporting by AFP