Scots pay price for defensive lapses as Carter stars
EDINBURGH, Scotland (AFP) –
Scotland suffered at the hands of New Zealand on Sunday with the hosts competitive for the bulk of an enthralling tussle at Murrayfield, yet paying the price for defensive lapses at crucial moments in a 51-22 loss.
Tim Visser marked his home-turf Test debut with a try-double and showed why he is a hot bet to be part of the Lions’ plans next year.
But the visitors were in a different league when it came to turning chances into points as they preserved their 107-year and 29-Test unbeaten record against the Scots as Dan Carter showed them how to do it with a 22-point haul and a sublime all-round showing.
“We’re very happy. We wanted to get this tour off to a good start and we were obviously up against a Scottish side who were full of energy,” Carter told the BBC, adding, “there are still a few areas to work on.”
The Scots looked up for the challenge as they marched forward to answer the challenge of the Haka before three quickfire tries before the break helped to sink them.
The anticipation level rose further as home-city Olympics hero Chris Hoy delivered the match-ball to the centre spot.
But Scotland were under pressure from the start and an infringement at the opening ruck handed Dan Carter an instant pot at goal and the playmaker calmly chipped over from 40 metres for the of his 22-point haul.
Carter was back in the spotlight for negative reasons as his floated pass was snatched by Matt Scott, who scuttled into enemy territory.
With the New Zealand markers committed upfield, he popped the ball to winger Visser, who was left with a cruise to the line from 20 metres out – leaving the stage clear for Greig Laidlaw to slot the angled conversion.
Carter made amends by helping to pave the way for full-back Israel Dagg to sprint through for the first Kiwi score, Carter adding the extras.
The Scots then lost flanker Ross Rennie with a shoulder problem, Dave Denton coming on.
Scotland quickly levelled the issue via the boot of Laidlaw from close range.
Then it was the turn of the All Blacks to lose a man, Dagg in agony after a mid-air clash with Sean Lamont.
Carter restored his team’s advantage after Scott held on to a rival too long in the tackle inside his own danger zone.
That was the cue for New Zealand to crank up the pace as a marvellous flowing sequence created the time and space for winger Julian Savea to collect try number two.
Carter’s conversion was from the widest possible angle – but he made it look easy.
The destiny of the match was effectively sealed less than two minutes later as Cory Jane skidded over in the corner – Carter again finding the target.
Hooker Andrew Hore was next to break through, taking advantage of slack tackling deep inside the 22-area before Carter converted.
Scott claimed a stoppage time touchdown for the hosts, but the video referee ruled he had not grounded the ball.
There was still enough time, however, for prop Geoff Cross to burrow over from point-blank range – Laidlaw slotting the kick to slash the gap to 17 points.
There was controversy four minutes after the restart as visiting flanker Adam Thomson was lucky to dodge a red card for a clear stamp on the head of Al Strokosch.
He was merely sent to the sin-bin on the recommendation of the touch judge.
Scotland were certainly looking the hungrier outfit and they gave themselves a glimmer of hope with another score.
Great tackling forced the Kiwis to surrender possession close to their line – and Visser was in the right place at the right time to scoop up the ball and finish with ease ahead of Carter’s third penalty.
After soaking up Scottish pressure, Savea pounced again at the other end and centre Ben Smith added another after slick work by Carter, whose conversion broke the half-century barrier.