Sunday 18 August 2019

Scots force NZ to battle

New Zealand 22-17 Scotland

Scotland's Stuart Hogg looks dejected after the match Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Scotland's Stuart Hogg looks dejected after the match Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

A moment of New Zealand magic denied Scotland a famous victory in a pulsating contest at Murrayfield. With the game firmly in the balance, Sonny Bill Williams broke through the midfield before offloading to Damian McKenzie, who fed Beauden Barret to maintain the All Blacks' hold over Scotland with a 22-17 win.

Stuart Hogg made a brilliant dart for the line in the dying moments but was tackled metres short to close out a brilliant performance from Gregor Townsend's side.

New Zealand have never lost to the Dark Blues, and that piece of history looked under threat after Jonny Gray's try pulled the scores back to 15-10 at one point in the second half, but Barrett's try put them out of sight despite Huw Jones giving the home crowd fresh hope.

Hogg made a couple of early breaks but it was the boot of Finn Russell that put the hosts into an early, and deserved, lead.

However, the All Blacks grew stronger as the half wore on, and went into the break level as John Barclay went in off his feet at the breakdown and gave Barrett the chance to kick a simple three points from the 22 as a hard-fought first half came to a close with the sides level.

For all their hard work in the first 40 minutes, Scotland were dealt a double blow at the start of the second half through some slack defence. Ali Price let Rieko Ioane claim a high ball that eventually saw Codie Taylor cross and then Williams kicked through for McKenzie to dive to open up a 12-point lead.

However, the hosts showed character to hit back straight away, working their way up to the New Zealand try-line through a strong lineout, and Sam Crane was sent to the bin before Gray stretched over the line to breathe life back into the match.

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