Autumn international: Scotland 17-22 New Zealand

By Tom EnglishBBC Scotland at Murrayfield
Autumn internationals
Scotland (3) 17
Tries: Gray, H Jones Cons: Russell 2 Pen: Russell
New Zealand (3) 22
Tries: Taylor, McKenzie, Barrett Cons: Barrett 2 Pen: Barrett

Scotland are still awaiting a first win over New Zealand after a dramatic 22-17 loss at Murrayfield.

Tries from Codie Taylor and Damian McKenzie early in the second half put the world champions in command.

Jonny Gray thundered over for Scotland, but Beauden Barrett scampered away to stretch the All Blacks' lead.

Huw Jones raced clear for a converted try and in the last minute Stuart Hogg was denied by a superb cover tackle from Barrett when heading for the line.

The outstanding Hogg was racing towards the left corner for a try that would have tied the scores with a conversion attempt to come, but Barrett caught the full-back, who lost the ball forward as he attempted an offload.

The five-point defeat is the closest Scotland have come to beating New Zealand since the sides drew 25-25 at Murrayfield in 1983.

This was always going to be a momentous occasion but the emotion was ratcheted up further when former Scotland lock Doddie Weir and his three sons brought out the match ball before kick-off, Murrayfield rising as one to greet the former Lion, who has motor neurone disease.

Doddie Weir
Ex-Scotland lock Doddie Weir, who has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, presented the match ball with his sons

It was a searing moment and it lent Murrayfield a power that Scotland fed off. There was a ferocity about Gregor Townsend's team, an accuracy in possession and a tempo that denied New Zealand the kind of easy ball they've been used to when they come here.

The visitors conceded five penalties in the first 20 minutes and seven in the first 30. Scotland competed brilliantly at the breakdown, Hamish Watson and John Barclay frustrating the All Blacks and refusing to let them to settle into their murderous rhythm.

Finn Russell put Scotland ahead with the boot and that lead stayed intact through two dangerous bouts of New Zealand pressure, the first ending not with the breakthrough try that looked as if it was imminent but with a Barrett forward pass to Ryan Crotty, and the second when Scotland survived a New Zealand scrum five metres from their line.

By then, flanker Watson - who had been playing outstandingly - had become the first of the casualties and was replaced by Luke Hamilton on debut.

Just before the half-hour, Waisake Naholo took Hogg out in the air but the officials decided it merited no more than a penalty.

Just when it seemed Scotland might become for the first side to keep New Zealand scoreless in an opening half of a Test since England did it five years ago, Barrett levelled with a penalty. The injuries were now mounting for the hosts, Zander Fagerson joining Watson in the treatment room, and the replacement Hamilton following too.

Damian McKenzie
Damian McKenzie dotted down after a sumptuous grubber kick from Sonny Bill Williams

The All Blacks had the lead at that point, Rieko Ioane and Taylor starting and then finishing a move that made it 8-3. Two minutes later, a Sonny Bill Williams grubber put McKenzie in for New Zealand's second score, converted by Barrett. That stretched the lead to 15-3.

George Turner, the hooker, had come on for Hamilton, with Stuart McInally reverting to his old position in the back row, as Townsend patched his team together in the hope of keeping the game alive. They were immense against the odds.

Sam Cane was sin-binned as Scotland piled on the pressure, Gray barging over from close range for a try that electrified Murrayfield. When Russell put over the conversion, it was a five-point game again.

Remarkably, with a makeshift front-row of Jamie Bhatti, George Turner and Simon Berghan, and a hooker playing open-side, Scotland were still alive.

The hope appeared to die when the All Blacks kicked for home, Williams delivering a magnificent offload to McKenzie, who cut a beautiful angle and put Barrett away to touch down.

The gap was 12 points with the conversion but still Scotland came again, New Zealand cynically killing ball in their own 22 and getting a second yellow for their trouble, Wyatt Crockett the culprit.

Huw Jones
Huw Jones' try brought Scotland within five points of the All Blacks in the final 10 minutes

The thunder carried on to the death with New Zealand unable to shake off the Scots. Hogg, magnificent all day, put through a gorgeously weighted grubber up the right wing and Tommy Seymour got to it first to unload to centre Jones, who ran away to score.

There were three minutes left when Russell walloped over the conversion to put Scotland within a converted try of one of the greatest days in their rugby history.

Hogg then went on an arcing run into the New Zealand 22 and in that moment you believed, for a second, that the miracle was about to happen.

But Barrett had sensed the danger and had the pace to cover across. Hogg's attempted pass bobbled forward in was the final play of a brilliant but agonising day.

Scotland: 15-Stuart Hogg; 14-Tommy Seymour, 13-Huw Jones, 12-Alex Dunbar, 11-Lee Jones; 10-Finn Russell, 9-Ali Price; 1-Darryl Marfo, 2-Stuart McInally, 3-Zander Fagerson, 4-Ben Toolis, 5-Jonny Gray, 6-John Barclay (captain), 7-Hamish Watson, 8-Cornell du Preez.

Replacements: 16-George Turner (for Hamilton, 50), 17-Jamie Bhatti (for Marfo, 59), 18-Simon Berghan (for Fagerson, 41), 19-Grant Gilchrist (for Toolis, 59), 20-Luke Hamilton (for Watson, 27), 21-Henry Pyrgos (for Price, 76), 22-Pete Horne (for Dunbar, 47), 23-Byron McGuigan (for L Jones, 69).

New Zealand: 15-Damian McKenzie; 14-Waisake Naholo, 13-Ryan Crotty, 12-Sonny Bill Williams, 11-Rieko Ioane; 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-Aaron Smith; 1-Kane Hames, 2-Codie Taylor, 3-Nepo Laulala, 4-Luke Romano, 5-Sam Whitelock, 6-Vaea Fifita, 7-Sam Cane, 8-Kieran Read (captain).

Replacements: 16-Nathan Harris (for Taylor, 75), 17-Wyatt Crockett (for Hames, 52), 18-Ofa Tu'ungafasi (for Laulala, 59), 19-Liam Squire (on for Romano, 47), 20-Matt Todd (for Cane, 75), 21-TJ Perenara (for Smith, 65), 22-Lima Sopoaga (for Naholo, 75), 23-Anton Lienert-Brown (for Williams, 69).


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