By Katie Field, Rugby World writer
In a nutshell
THREE TRIES in eight first-half minutes enabled New Zealand to take the game away from Scotland after a hard-fought first quarter, with the world champions showing their class with some sublime play. Dan Carter stepped through the Scotland line time and again, and the new centre partnership of Ben Smith and Tamati Ellison produced some slick handling and smooth support running to offer options left and right. Scotland did score three tries – two from Tim Visser and one from Geoff Cross – but the main blot on New Zealand’s copybook was the sin-binning of Adam Thomson, who was lucky not to see red instead of yellow as he put a foot to Alasdair Strokosch’s head.
Just after the half-hour, Scotland needed to regroup as New Zealand had taken a 20-10 lead but instead they went offside at the restart, then engaged early in the scrum and conceded possession and territory to the All Blacks, who duly scored twice more in the next five minutes to stretch their lead to an unassailable 24 points.
Dan Carter was at his absolute best in the first half, stepping, dummying, feinting and passing to his ever-present support runners. His goalkicking success rate was also 90% to complete his rugby masterclass.
Room for improvement
Scotland’s defence was found wanting as they missed tackles and stepped out of the line, letting the All Blacks take control of the game in the second quarter.
Andy Robinson’s side must also cut out the silly errors, such as early scrum engagements. They lost some crucial lineout ball too. Their try count and ability to turn territory into points has improved but they need to produce quicker ball when they have sides under pressure.
New Zealand will be disappointed with their second-half performance after showcasing so many skills before the break. Scotland were able to challenge them with some good pick-and-drive play, so the Kiwis will be looking to improve their close-quarter work to match their back play.
In quotes – winners
Man of the Match Dan Carter: “There are areas still to work on. In the second half Scotland really took it to us and controlled the territory and the coaches won’t be happy that we conceded three tries. Our defence was too passive at times. Credit to this Scotland side – they played with a lot of passion and were extremely physical and scored some good tries.”
In quotes – losers
Scotland wing Tim Visser: “We can score tries and accumulate points but we need to look at the details now and get the little things right. They kept the ball, they were physical and good in the tackle contest. We lost all three areas and that’s how they very easily won this game.”
Scotland are the first team to have scored more than two tries against New Zealand this year, but they missed 21 tackles out of 77 and lost four lineouts out of 11. Possession was exactly 50/50 but the All Blacks made 473 metres compared to 218 for Scotland.
SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg; Sean Lamont, Nick De Luca (Max Evans 64), Matt Scott, Tim Visser; Greig Laidlaw (Ruaridh Jackson 65), Mike Blair (Henry Pyrgos 75); Ryan Grant (Allan Jacobsen 65), Ross Ford (Scott Lawson 64), Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton (Alastair Kellock 58), Alasdair Strokosch, Ross Rennie (David Denton 19), Kelly Brown (captain).
Tries: Visser (2), Cross. Cons: Laidlaw 2. Pen: Laidlaw.
NEW ZEALAND: Israel Dagg (Beauden Barrett 26); Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Tamati Ellison, Julian Savea; Daniel Carter, Piri Weepu (Tawera Kerr-Barlow 61); Wyatt Crockett (Tony Woodcock 72), Andrew Hore (Dane Coles 61), Owen Franks (Ben Franks 61), Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock (Ali Williams 67), Adam Thomson, Richie McCaw (captain), Victor Vito.
Tries: Dagg, Savea (2), Jane, Hore, Smith. Cons: Carter 6. Pens: Carter 3.
Sin-bin: Adam Thomson 44 min.
Referee: Jerome Garces (France).