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Player ratings: The big choke

OPINION: Scotland fell agonisingly short of a first-ever win against New Zealand at Murrayfield – losing 23-31.


The visitors raced into a 14-0 lead thanks to tries from Samisoni Taukei’aho and debutant Mark Talea inside the first 10 minutes.

Scotland recovered superbly with a penalty try and a score from Darcy Graham, while Finn Russell’s boot meant they’d scored 23 unanswered points going into the final 25 minutes.

But the All Blacks came, as they so typically have done in recent years at Murrayfield, and tries from Scott Barrett and Talea’s second took the game away from the hosts.

It was another valiant effort against the All Blacks.

Gavin Harper rates the Scotland players!

15. Stuart Hogg – 8
The former skipper showed his attacking prowess with a lovely chip to get Scotland’s first try, but will have been disappointed to be shrugged off early by Talea in the build-up to the visitors’ opening score.


14. Darcy Graham – 8
The stadium lifts every time he gets the ball, and the Hawick man is such a threat. Dragged Scotland right back into the game with a perfect read to pick off Havili’s pass, step Jordie Barrett and score. So close to a second score on the half-hour and always went looking for work.

13. Chris Harris – 7
Quiet again with ball in hand but his experience counts for so much in marshalling the Scottish defence.

12. Sione Tuipulotu – 7
Gets through a mountain of work and carried consistently into the heart of the visitors’ defence.

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 8
New Zealand found the big winger so difficult to put down, yet the All Blacks kept kicking his way. Kept coming off his wing and offering himself in close quarters.


10. Finn Russell – 8
There’s been so much made of the return of Scotland’s mercurial fly-half, but he showed his class there. Offered some lovely touches as he added so much to Scotland’s attack. So often a threat whether running or putting others into space.

9. Ali Price – 7
His selection was questioned in some quarters, but the Lions half-back linked well with his good mate Russell. A couple of lovely box-kicks to give Scotland territory and delivered speedy service for his half-back colleague.

1. Pierre Schoeman – 8
The South African-born loosehead showed his power in the tight, making nearly 30 metres with his four carries, and got on top of Laulala at the set-piece. Also showed his sleight of hand on a number of occasions to link with the backs.

2. Fraser Brown – 7
Handed a recall for the first time in a couple of years, his lineout throwing was on the money and added his weight to the scrum. His sealing-off penalty was one of many opportunities Scotland couldn’t convert. Nine tackles were the most of the front row.

3. Zander Fagerson – 7
A busy shift from the tighthead who contributed four carries in the first half, and played his part in the scrum getting on top.

4. Richie Gray – 7.5
The elder of the Gray brothers rolled back the years against fellow veteran Whitelock. Scotland’s go-to man at the lineout, with seven plus seven tackles.

5. Grant Gilchrist – 7
Edinburgh’s captain said he wanted to do Doddie Weir – who famously wore the number five jersey and delivered the match ball – proud with his performance. While Gilchrist doesn’t have the same all-court game as 61-cap Weir, he got stuck in. Six tackles like his second row colleague, plus four carries.

6. Jamie Ritchie – 7
Another big shift, but the breakdown was a real concern throughout. Ritchie, like his side, started slowly, but showed some of his best in the intervening 50 minutes before the All Blacks reassumed control. 12 tackles for the skipper.

7. Hamish Watson – 6
Didn’t get on the ball for the whole first half last week, made a dent with two early carries today. Great chase on a Hogg kick to win Scotland territory, but that forced the Edinburgh man off. Scotland missed his breakdown threat.

8. Matt Fagerson – 7
A couple of strong involvements early on but was turned over by his opposite number Savea in the build-up to Talea’s try. Again led the tackle count with 16.


16. Ewan Ashman – 5
On for Brown for the final 10 minutes, but like to many of the Scottish replacements, didn’t add the impact required.

17. Rory Sutherland – 5
Replaced the industrious Schoeman for the final 25 minutes. Conceded a penalty at his first scrum. Didn’t last long before he was carted off injured.

18. Willem Nel – 5
On for his 50th cap but was under pressure at the scrum.

19. Jonny Gray – 5
On for Gilchrist on 65 minutes, but couldn’t stem the

20. Jack Dempsey – 7
The Australian-born back-row replaced Watson on 18 minutes and put a big shift in. Sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on, during which the visitors reassumed control.

21. Ben White – 5
Replaced Price with 15 minutes to go, but unable to have the same impact as his opposite number Perenara.

22. Blair Kinghorn – N/A
No time to make any impression after replacing Tuipulto late on.

23. Mark Bennett – 5
On for the final 15 minutes, replacing Harris, but no real opportunity for the Edinburgh man to show his attacking capability.


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