Brilliant Carter leads All Blacks past Scotland

By Gregor Paul in Edinburgh

Dan Carter produced another man of the match performance. Photo / Getty Images
Dan Carter produced another man of the match performance. Photo / Getty Images

All Blacks 51
Scotland 22

The All Blacks, in case anyone was unsure of their whereabouts, announced their arrival in the northern hemisphere with a performance that came with surges of breathtaking excellence.

It also came with passages of spirited adventure from Scotland who were able to do enough to score three tries - presumably some kind of world record for them (at least this century) - and leave a number of questions hanging over the effectiveness of the All Black defensive effort.

It's often the way of things in Europe, the All Blacks do enough in 10 minutes bursts to kill the game and then open themselves to the prospect of a little mental drifting.

Wynne Gray: A breathtaking and bewildering All Blacks performance

That was certainly the story at Murrayfield. The second quarter of the first half was where the damage was done - when if the All Blacks were judged purely on that alone, every nation north of the equator would have wondered whether the men in black are really from New Zealand or another planet. The skill level was hypnotic the pace relentless and the execution emphatic.

The tries came and they came - basic skills done well with a touch of creativity and genius - that was the formula. Much of the genius came from Dan Carter, as if he had been holding something back all year for this moment.

Its frightening what he can do when he's in the mood. Admittedly the Loch Ness Monster has been sighted more than the Scottish defence but still, the movement, the handling and the timing of the All Black attack was Swiss clock efficient and elegant.

Carter was the orchestrator: a man so at ease in this arena its worth wondering whether he carries a test rugby gene.

It was all so easy for him after an iffy start where he threw an intercept that allowed Scotland to score the first try of the game. But after that, he was immaculate and so much more.

He skipped and hopped and when he gunned his engine - it purred. He pretty much owned the contest - something he proved, when after a prolonged period of Scottish territorial and possession, Carter nudged an inch-perfect cross kick that Julian Savea gathered on the bounce and carried through to the line.

That move typified the nature of the contest and hinted at what is likely to follow: the difference between the All Blacks and Scotland was the former's ability to play with imagination and the skills to back it. There was plenty of ordinary from the All Blacks in between - periods, particularly in the second half, when they were sloppy, lateral and loose. But that's how they are - they meander and then strike with lightning force, which is why they can troop off, seemingly having not impressed that much yet with 50 points in the bag.

They are in a different class to the rest of the world - providing the only real joy of the weekend.

The day before, Ireland, Wales, South Africa and Argentina had served up precisely zero rugby in 160 minutes of dirge. The IRB, so determined for these next few weeks of test football to capture the public's imagination, must have despaired. People like all sorts of strange things - but it would have taken a peculiar type to have sat through that rugby offering and not reckoned it would have been more of a laugh going to the dentist.

It was all so different at Murrayfield, though. The All Blacks gave the masses a taste of what rugby is all about and to be fair to Scotland, they showed signs they too had caught the rugby bug.

Scotland 22 (T. Visser (2), G. Cross, tries; G. Laidlaw 2 cons, pen)
New Zealand 51 (I. Dagg, C. Jane, A. Hore, J. Savea (2), B. Smith tries; D. Carter 6 cons, 3 pens)

- Herald on Sunday

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