All Blacks 22 Scotland 17

Scottish hearts skipped a beat at Murrayfield as Gregor Townsend's men came within one pass of a famous upset over the All Blacks.

What a match this was. When the dust settles Scotland will rue missed chances but they must be applauded for almost pulling off the unthinkable. This could so easily have been an historic occasion.

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Chants of "Scotland, Scotland" drowned out Kieran Read's post match speech and signalled just how much locals appreciated their team's mighty effort.


Scotland fed off the epic atmosphere but, ultimately, the All Blacks found a way to escape with some trademark resilience.

Again, the All Blacks delivered 2017's all-too-frequent patchiness. There's been that much you could knit a tartan quilt. Last week in Paris they creaked throughout the second half. This time they had to absorb mountains of pressure after starting poorly and conceding two late second half yellow cards - Sam Cane and Wyatt Crockett the guilty culprits. Their combined exits left the All Blacks defending their own line with 13 men at one stage.

Codie Taylor of New Zealand scores the opening try during the International test match between Scotland and New Zealand at Murrayfield. Photo / Getty Images.
Codie Taylor of New Zealand scores the opening try during the International test match between Scotland and New Zealand at Murrayfield. Photo / Getty Images.

In a reflection of just how much they struggled, the All Blacks needed 38 minutes to score their first points. It didn't get any easier after that, either.

Maybe it was the sight of George 'Doddie' Weir, the former Scottish lock suffering motor neuron disease, delivering the match ball alongside his sons to a rousing ovation. Maybe the full house in full voice. Whatever the case, to a man Scotland were inspired.

They looked nothing like a decimated team who beat Samoa at this same venue by six points last week.

With every sniff their confidence and passion grew. Halfback Ali Price gestured to get the crowd involved, not that they needed any invitation to roar into 'Flower of Scotland'. In a sign of their spirit, players rushed in to celebrate every turnover.

For a period, thoughts drifted to Ireland and their historic win over the All Blacks in Chicago last year. Scotland had, of course, never beaten the All Blacks after now 31 attempts in 112 years; two draws (1964 and 1983) the nearest things.

They gave this a real shake, and will feel a huge upset was squandered, having had the All Blacks seriously under the pump and blown many chances to increase the pressure.


When Scottish centre Huw Jones went over with three minutes left victory was a very real chance. Stuart Hogg had the crowd on their feet with a break at the death - Barrett pushing him into touch and his pass drifting forward in the final play.

Knowing how close they came, Scotland looked devastated as the full-time whistle sounded. The standing ovation that followed allowed them to raise their heads.

Scotland may not have won but they played most of the rugby and were probably the better team.

Tonight, Edinburgh will still celebrate their gallant effort, and rightly so.

The All Blacks basic skills were poor at times and, again, their ill-discipline proved costly. They delivered a couple of magical moments - Sonny Bill Williams, in superb touch, combining with Damian McKenzie and Beauden Barrett from first phase the most notable. Williams' pin-point grubber - in a repeat of last week - for McKenzie another.

Rieko Ioane's talent was on show too. And their scrum again came to the fore to get them out of major danger.

But there were few other highlights.

Scottish captain John Barclay made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown; Hogg threatened with every touch and Finn Russell sparking his backline. With depth and deception - frequent backdoor plays to create space - Scotland troubled the All Blacks and should have gone to the sheds with handy lead rather than locked at 3-3. Twice simple handling errors five metres out from the All Blacks line squandered gift chances to strike.

Still, they had the All Blacks rattled throughout. Aaron Smith almost threw a perplexing intercept pass; Barrett's short kicking game was initially off and he delivered a forward pass to Ryan Crotty five metres out from the Scottish line. Identified as an area in need of improvement, discipline was again poor. McKenzie had his moments on attack - delivering the ball for Barrett's try - but also put his side under pressure with audacious plays from the back. Such was the noise of the crowd the All Blacks were also pinged for not throwing the ball into the lineout.

Vaea Fifita, in his second successive start at blindside, was immense; other than the scrum the best thing about the All Blacks. He hit hard and carried at least half a dozen times, many off the lineout and one from a restart he stormed 40m up field. But, then, straight after half time he, too, dropped the ball under his sticks.

The only thing you couldn't fault was the scrum where Kane Hames led the charge and the All Blacks were supremely dominant. On one occasion under the posts with seven men - Kierad Read and Fifita at lock - they delivered when it mattered most.

But with one match left this season in Cardiff next week, the All Blacks will need to be much better than this.