Ben Smith scores a try for the All Blacks against Scotland
during their test at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh.
An artillery gun belted off a couple of blasts amongst
the rousing range of pre-match activities at Murrayfield.
Even if the operator had lowered the sights and slipped one
of the shots into the midst of the All Blacks, it's doubtful
whether he could have done enough damage to inflict their
first loss to Scotland.
For the opening quarter it looked as though they had taken
some shrapnel as they played with a ragged edge and frenetic
They looked like a group who had been caged up too long, a
group who had spent too much time waiting for the test, too
much time thinking about what impact they wanted to make.
Errors which were once-in-a-season stuff appeared, the most
experienced men in the side like captain Richie McCaw and his
deputy Daniel Carter made mistakes.
Carter threw a sloppy intercept, McCaw shelled the ball and
was bowled out of the way in defence. They were not on their
own but they were the senior men.
They showed that when they began the recovery.
Almost as soon as he gifted his intercept try, Carter cut
Scotland open with a curving run away from a lineout. He
began to skip and run, dummy and deceive.
As he says, when he feels confident he takes the ball to the
line and as that started to happen the All Blacks began to
find some more pattern, rhythm and potency.
Three withering tries towards the end of the first half were
stunning pieces of work and left most of the host supporters
Wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane were the beneficiaries as
the All Blacks swept the ball back and forth across
Murrayfield, using their layers and depth of runners to
confuse the Scottish defenders.
It was the sort of rugby the All Blacks want to play in every
test and they were blessed that Edinburgh laid on perfect
conditions for them to exhibit their cracking style of rugby.
It was cool but fine and the surface at Murrayfield looked in
It had to be for the All Blacks' niftiest try of the half
when Piri Weepu and Jane made inroads down the tiniest of
blindsides, an area which would have struggled to accommodate
massive Scots lock Richie Gray.
After their pas de deux, they shifted the ball to hooker
Andrew Hore, who swivelled and bounced his way to the line.
Scotland bought into the action, using the ball with more
elan than they have previously.
At times they did resort to type with their preferred choice
of attack being up and unders and rumbles from close range
but Scotland were very adept in those phases and put the All
Backs under serious heat, especially in the close-quarter
Tough defenders like McCaw and Owen Franks were bounced on
their backsides and it took a great deal of grit and
technique to halt some of the Scots' rampages.
The All Blacks managed that in performance which was both
breathtaking and bewildering and a great landscape for the
coaching staff to work with this week.
- Wynne Gray of the New Zealand Herald at Murrayfield