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September 23rd, 2007
All Blacks savaged Scotland 40-0, in a thoroughly one-sided
clash in Edinburgh.
Scotland looked every bit the second string side they were,
and never threatened a purposeful, if not clinical, New
Zealand side. The All Blacks never shifted out of cruise
mode, and one sensed they could have lifted the intensity to
really blow the hosts away at any stage. This is a ominous
sign for those who await Graham Henry’s charges in the
The fact that Scotland wanted to conserve themselves for
their crucial pool match against Italy was well documented
in the build-up to this match. But that won’t be any solace
to a side who looked on a different planet, skill-wise.
When playing New Zealand you want to be accurate in your
execution and fundamental skills. Parity at set phases is
useful, and heart and self belief is essential. While their
performance was characterised by plenty of heart, it was
sorely devoid of any of the other characteristics.
They were comprehensively outplayed in every facet of the
game, particularly at scrum time, where the All Blacks
folded them on numerous occasions. This robbed them of a
primary attacking platform, which was a hammer blow
considering they never saw much ball in general play. When
they did, poor option taking and fundamental errors thwarted
any chance of breaching the All Blacks defensive line.
Credit, however, has to go a solid defensive performance by
New Zealand. The manner in which they dominated the
collisions left one wondering if the conditioning programme
the Scots keep talking up is an fictional construct designed
to somehow gain a pre-match psychological advantage.
This was, however, not a complete performance by New
Zealand, and they’ll have to improve as the tournament
progresses. Their possession and territorial dominance
should have translated into more points on the board but
unforced errors in good positions ensured that didn’t
happen. But they’ll be pleased with their performance at the
set phases though, from which their first two tries
The first, a simple move where Rodney So’oialo broke right
off a scrum on the Scotland 5m line then switched inside to
Richie McCaw who powered over. The second displayed
everything that was good about the All Blacks. Again they
broke right from 30m out and superb interplay in the
backline, who displayed pace and purpose, saw Doug Howlett
cross and become New Zealand’s all-time record try scorer.
They continued to lay seige on the Scotland goal line, and
duly scored their third after the hosts had failed to repel
a bulldozing Chris Masoe surge. The flanker set up the ruck
from which Byron Kelleher picked and sniped around the
blindside to score.
But Henry would have been ripping out the little hair he has
left watching his team in the first 10 minutes of the third
quarter. They camped in the Scotland red zone in that
period, but failed to unhinge the defence, knock ons,
turnovers and generally poor option taking blunting their
attempts to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Ali Williams rounded off an unstructured move to get his
side going, and Carter scooped up a knock on on his 10m line
to sprint in from long range. Doug Howlett concluded the
rout after Scotland allowed play to get loose.
Henry the perfectionist will lambaste his side for their
lack of opportunism. They should have put at least more 20
points on the Scots, with Carter in particular poor with the
boot - kicking just four of eight attempts.
Scotland will write this performance off, claiming that the
Italy match was always going to be their main focus. The
result will no doubt have an impact on the squad going into
the that fixture. The question for them will be whether they
can lift themselves before then.
By Ryan Vrede
New Zealand - Try: Richie McCaw, Doug Howlett (2), Byron
Kelleher, Ali Williams, Dan Carter. Conversion: Dan Carter
(2). Penalty: Carter (2)
Posted by Ryan | Keo.co.za