All Blacks too strong for Scotland

EDINBURGH - The All Blacks cruised through the first leg of their Grand Slam tour of Britain and Ireland this morning (NZT), a second-string line-up comfortably running up a 32-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

The huge gulf between the best team in the southern hemisphere and one of Europe's weaker countries was underlined as the All Blacks extended their unbeaten run against Scotland to 27 matches with tries from Anthony Tuitavake, Piri Weepu and man of the match Richard Kahui and Anthony Boric.

First five-eighths Stephen Donald, who did well enough to ensure Dan Carter was not brought off the bench until the final ten minutes, contributed 10 points with four kicks landed out of five.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry had opted to keep his powder dry for the tougher tests that lie ahead by naming a line-up featuring three debutants and 12 changes from the side that started last weekend's Bledisloe Cup win over Australia in Hong Kong.

That had led to the Scots kicking off with high hopes of taking advantage of the relative inexperience of their opponents line-up to end their 103-year wait for a victory over the All Blacks.

Things started promisingly enough with skipper Mike Blair breaking the line to send Chris Paterson on a run that was halted, illegally, under the posts.

Paterson duly dispatched the ensuing penalty but Scotland's advantage was handed back immediately when centre Nick de Luca was sin-binned for kicking the ball away in a ruck.

Having converted their penalty, the tourists exploited their numerical advantage after the Scots lost their own lineout yards from the touchline.

Donald's crossfield kick found Tuitavake in the opposite corner and the Auckland Blues wing muscled past Paterson to put his side firmly in charge.

Donald's conversion and a penalty awarded after former skipper Jason White was penalised in the lineout, stretched the lead to 13-3 with less than 20 minutes gone.

Paterson reduced the deficit with another penalty but the All Blacks were gifted a second try when Phil Godman, preferred to Dan Parks at first five-eighths, failed to kill Kahui's grubber kick just to the right of the posts, allowing halfback Weepu to pick up and go over.

A rare penalty miss by Paterson did not help the home side's cause but hooker Ross Ford's storming run through the All Blacks midfield triggered their first period of sustained pressure.

Some desperate defending saw lock Boric sent to the sin bin but New Zealand weathered the storm, with the help of Scots wing Sean Lamont, who kicked at clean air after his own forward chip had left him with a clear run at the line.

Any hopes of a fightback the Scots may have nurtured at half-time were crushed within two minutes of the restart, when the simplest of forward punts enabled Kahui to sprint clear and touch down under the posts.

Another try should have followed on the hour mark, when replacement Corey Jane dropped the ball within a yard of the touchline. Instead, the fourth came six minutes from the end, Boric making amends for his first-half indiscretion.

All Blacks 32 (Anthony Tuitavake, Piri Weepu, Richard Kahui, Anthony Boric tries; Stephen Donald 2 pen 2 con, Daniel Carter con). Scotland 6 (Chris Paterson 2 pen). Halftime: 18-6.

- AFP

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