New Zealand 62

Scotland 31


SCOTLAND the brave, bold and adventurous faced up to the awesome power of the new age All Blacks on the turf of Carisbrook on Saturday and they may have sustained a record defeat but Rob Wainwright and his men came away with pride intact.

The scoreline does not tell the whole story. In fact, it comes nowhere close. This was not a Southern Hemisphere replay of that dismal day at Murrayfield in 1993 when the Scots paid the price for a spineless display on the wrong end of a 51-15 hiding.

At Carisbrook, the Scots played with great courage. They were dashing and they were daring. But, on the day, they were simply not good enough. That is the salutory lesson which must be learnt from this 1996 tour to the Land of the Long White Cloud.

The already gaping chasm separating Northern and Southern Hemisphere rugby is now of such an order that unless rapid steps are taken to overhaul the fundamental structure of the Scottish game, then, as a nation, and very soon, we will not be able to compete at world level outwith the relatively cosy confines of the Five Nations championship.

Primarily, this will mean exposing our top players to regular cut-throat competition of a kind that the Scottish club game cannot provide. Parish pump politics and petty parochialism will kill the Scottish game stone dead at world level unless the vehicle of District competition in Europe - and further afield - is given the backing of everyone in the Scottish game. End of sermon.

Scotland out-rucked and out-mauled the All Blacks. They played better continuity rugby. They were adequate in the lineouts but less so in the scrums. They had the lion's share of possession and were up-sides with the Kiwis on the territorial spoils but they lacked the electric finishing power of the All Black back three where, in the new order, games are won and lost.

Christian Cullen, with four tries on Saturday to add to his debut hat-trick against Western Samoa the previous weekend, is a new world star in the making. Combine him with the silken runner that is Jeff Wilson and with the freakish power of Jonah Lomu and you have the most lethal strike force in world rugby.

Gregor Townsend outplayed his opposite number Andrew Mehrtens to an astonishing degree. Kevin McKenzie, both in work-rate and individual endeavour, was more than a match for Sean Fitzpatrick. Gary Armstrong was by far the better of the two scrumhalves. Rowen Shepherd, save for one moment's loss of concentration when he spilled a simple take into touch near the Scottish line, was solid in defence and kicked almost flawlessly. Even Ronnie Eriksson, pitched in for his first cap because of injury to Hastings and Shiel, and who played outside Jardine on New Zealand's ball, let no one down. Yet still Scotland lost.

The Scots scored three tries and squandered, maybe, two or three chances.

Every time the All Blacks were presented with a chance, or a half-chance, they scored. Nine tries and most of them accomplished in the twinkling of an eye. It is as simple as that.

Every side looks better going forward than it does in retreat and the All Blacks were no exception. At times, in defence, they looked if not ordinary, then certainly not the invincible icon of world rugby that they have become.

Yet still they scored nine tries and inflicted yet another record defeat on Scotland.

Wainwright led the Scots out - like David Sole before the 1990 Grand Slam finale - at a slow march. They meant business and within three minutes they had their first points on the board through a Shepherd penalty goal.

After 10 minutes Ian Jones, winning his fiftieth cap, was over for a try as Wilson stepped inside Shephered, was tackled by Townsend but still loaded off the scoring pass to the big lock.

Three minutes later Shepherd latched on to a long Armstrong ruck pass to spear home a drop goal and Scotland were back in front. But right from the restart Lomu strode in unopposed after Dowd had scooped up spilled Scottish ball and Mehrtens converted.

Cullen went in for his first try after a mazy run from a miss pass from McLeod and six missed Scottish tackles. Mehrtens converted from in front of the posts.

The Kiwi fullback was principally involved, too, when Zinzan Brooke went over for a try in the twenty-third minute after scrummage ball was spun wide. Who says tries can't be scored from first-phase possession? From the restart, Scotland had the All Blacks on the rack. McKenzie, Wright, and Cronin; Armstrong, Townsend, and Wainright; Armstrong, Townsend, and Eriksson, who suffered a fearful tackle by Lomu but still retained possession, all drove at the Kiwi line. Cyncially, the All Blacks conceded a couple of penalties and Armstrong was over the line but Wainwright had knocked-on in the lead-up - a gilt-edged opportunity gone.

Mehrtens cleared but Scotland returned to the attack once again. Shepherd thundered through bewildered Kiwi defenders. Then Armstrong sent Jardine just a metre short of the line. From a line-out ruck, the ball squirts out and Justin Marshal just beats Weir to the touch. Brave stuff but nothing to show for it.

The try came just a minute later when Townsend broke inside Lomu and Kronfeld, laid off to Peters and the No.8 was over. Shepherd converted and, at 24-13 after 28 minutes Scotland were still in with a shout.

It was looking even better after a Shepherd penalty but then came the most graphic illustration of the power and freakishness of that man Lomu. At a scrum 35 metres from the Scottish line he took up position at stand-off.

He ran straight through Townsend and Shepherd and only the combined efforts of Jardine, Armstrong, and Logan brought him to his knees just short of the line. Five defenders, though, had been liquidated and from the ruck Mehrtens was over for the try which he also converted. It simply isn't cricket! Lomu, though, isn't quite so hot in defence and it was a turnover on him which saw Logan late-tackled and Shepherd kick Scotland to 31-19 at the turn.

Mehrtens kicked the ABs further ahead shortly afterwards and Cullen's fifty-second minute try came, heartbreakingly, after Scotland had smashed upfield with a rolling maul to within striking distance of the Kiwi line. Townsend's flip pass to Wainwright went astray, Marshall fed Cullen, and he was off for a try at the other end. Mehrtens converted.

Scotland refused to bend the knee and Joiner's try four minutes later came after a spell of marvellous counter-attacking, continuity rugby. Two rucks and two fine pick-ups by McKenzie and Townsend saw Joiner in for the try which Shepherd converted.

There then followed a startling six or seven minute passage of play which would not have disgraged the Melrose Sevens. Without a break, rugby league or American football style, Scotland, breaking around the fringes, forced their way upfield. Again, though, with just a half-chance, the All Blacks attacked with pace from deep and Cullen was in for his hat-trick. Mehrtens converted.

Cullen's fourth try, converted by Mehrtens, came six minutes from the end and, with weary legs showing, the Scottish defence was punished again when Marshall went over with three minutes remaining. And again Mehrtens speared the conversion between the uprights.

The final word went to Scotland, and fittingly it was Townsend who did the business. The fly-half looped his centres to glide over at the right corner flag. A most amazing game of rugby was over. Scotland were well beaten but their honour was intact.

New Zealand - C Cullen; J Wilson, F Bunce, S MacLeod, J Lomu; A Mehrtens, J Marshall; C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick, O Brown, I Jones, R Brooke, M Jones, Z Brooke, J Kronfeld. Replacement - E Rush for Lomu (69min).

Scotland - R Shepherd; C Joiner (both Melrose), R Eriksson (London Scottish), I Jardine, K Logan (both Stirling County); G Townsend (Northampton), G Armstrong (Newcastle); D Hilton (Bath), K McKenzie (Stirling County), P Wright (Boroughmuir), D Cronin (Bourges), G Weir (Newcastle), R Wainwright (Watsonians, capt), E Peters (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester).

Referee: W Erickson (Australia).

SCORERS: New Zealand - Cullen, 4t; Lomu, 1t; Ian Jones, 1t; Zinzan Brooke, 1t; Marshall, 1t; Mehrtens, 1t, 7c, 1p. Scotland - Peters, 1t; Townsend, 1t; Joiner, 1t; Shepherd, 3p, 1dg, 2c.

q.CAMERON Glasgow, the Heriot's FP utility back who arrived in New Zealand only at the weekend as a replacement for the injured Graham Shiel, has been selected on the right wing to play against Bay of Plenty in Rotorua tomorrow. Scotland team:

S Lang; C Glasgow (both Heriot's FP), A Stanger (Hawick), R Eriksson (London Scottish), D Stark (Boroughmuir); C Chalmers (Melrose captain), A Nicol (Bath); T Smith (Watsonians), G Ellis (Currie), B Stewart (Edinburgh Academicals), S Campbell (Dundee HS FP), S Murray (Edinburgh Academicals), P Walton (Newcastle Gosforth), B Renwick (Hawick), N Broughton (Melrose).

Bay of Plenty - D Kaui; G Tamani, J Spanhake, W Clarke, B Daniel; A Miller, J Tauiwi; S Simpkins, J Edwards, P Cook, S Axtens, M Camp, P Tapai, C McMillan, B Sinkinson. Replacements - S Stone, M Miller, P Thomas, D Jones, E Cossey, M Howe, G Remnant.