All Blacks 49
Scotland 3

An All Black machine that had spluttered through the first two games of this tour, clicked into gear this morning, leaving the Scots screaming for air and still awaiting their first win over New Zealand.

While still a long way short of an 80-minute performance, four tries in the opening half hour, all cleverly constructed, put the game out of reach.

Hosea Gear scored first after the sort of Sonny Bill Williams bust and offload that is fast becoming a trademark.

The ease with which Williams breaks the advantage line at first phase and the difficulty defences have preventing him get the ball away suggests that 12 is a more natural home for him.

He's far from the finished product at this level - when he gets the ball deeper behind the advantage line he looks as if he is thinking too much about what he's supposed to be doing - but the tries he set up to Gear and Muliaina in the second, with a reverse flick pass, point to him being a blue-chip asset ahead of the World Cup.

Williams wasn't the only one in creative mood, with Liam Messam having his best game at this level.

Dan Carter benefited from a nice interchange between Messam, Mils Muliaina and Isaia Toeava.

Muliaina followed soon after with Messam and Carter again instrumental, before Gear rounded out the try-scoring for the half with a try that owed as much to a non-existent defensive line as it did to his pace and swerve.

This was rugby played at pace and with the sort of precision that had been missing in Hong Kong and London. Scotland, who have impressed recently with their willingness to move the ball and play with width, needed desperately to crunch the game down to its core and for a while they were successful.

The scrum became more a clock-eater than a re-start with close to 10 minutes spent at the set-piece in the first half alone.

More of the same was to follow in the second half and as the All Blacks emptied their bench, the game threatened to lose all sense of shape.
Deep into the game there was only Ma'a Nonu left unused and you had to wonder how he felt as he watched Messam then Williams, wearing the jersey he has made his own over the past two years, set up a try to Conrad Smith.

It threatened to be the last meaningful act of a game until Stephen Donald burst through the line from phase play and sent replacement halfback Andy Ellis under the posts. Only the hardest of heart would have failed to take some pleasure in the Waikato first five's partial redemption.

The game ended early and on a scary note, with Max Evans taken from the field with a suspected neck injury. In a freakish set of circumstances, his brother, Thom, was forced to retire this week after breaking his neck in the Six Nations last year.

When they get a chance, the All Blacks will review Ireland's unconvincing win against Samoa and Wales second half capitulation against South Africa and conclude, surely, that another grand slam is there for the taking.

New Zealand 49 (Hosea Gear 2, Dan Carter, Mils Muliaina 2, Conrad Smith, Andy Ellis tries; Carter 5 con, Stephen Donald 2 con), Scotland 3 (Dan Parks pen). Halftime: 28-3.

Other internationals:
England down Wallabies
'Boks sneak by Wales