Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
You are here: Home » Match Review; New Zealand v Scotland Murrayfield 2014
15 November 2014
Match Review - New Zealand v Scotland
I've got to be honest here, in the touring All Black Supporter's bus I was in last Saturday in Edinburgh as we headed out to Murrayfield to see New Zealand play their rugby test against Scotland I told our people on the microphone that 'if Scotland are EVER going to beat the All Blacks then tonight's the night!'
I said it with much firmness! And I meant it too!
But moments later when someone handed me a clipboard and asked me to put a pound into the kitty and 'pick a score' I promptly wrote down 'All Blacks 41 Scotland 21.'
So I kinda thought New Zealand would win it OK - though there was that niggle in me that Scotland's team could be a downright nuisance in the game. They had won well the previous week against Argentina and their team was the same to play New Zealand.
But Scotland could not win it. It was a tough game, just like last week's at Twickenham, really - and this All Black team knows how to win it seems - whatever circumstances are thrown at them and whoever is playing in the black shirts (where one still can't see the numbers!).
But who could be satisfied at the bumbling, fumbling, effort of mixed messages which New Zealand put on?
Actually firstly, I blame the coach Steve Hansen. Yes, I know he has to give players in his party of 35+ who are all fit and keen, game time on the playing fields while they are here, otherwise they sit around and probably start to grumble and plot that he's a bastard for NOT giving them game time.
But on the other hand if you put out a team with 13 changes from the week before, with players out of position all over the park, how can they be expected to be fired up and looking like a team unit straight out of the sheds and into a test match?
Obviously they can't or couldn't against brave, fiery Scotland. That much was confirmed by the lack of cohesion, teamwork, and backs-forwards togetherness from the All Blacks from start to finish.
Scotland on the other hand played with 110% zest from start to finish. Their lineout was very impressive, the two Grey brothers (looking like Ben Nevis and Ben Lomond - two mountains), their scuttling loose men were very committed (including a former Wellington lad Ben Cowan playing the game of his life) and in a couple of other players, like the runaway try-scorer Tommy Seymour and fly half Finn Russell, they had the best players on the field.
Of the All Blacks I liked Charles Piutau on one wing but was confused to see Colin Slade on the other. Someone told me Shaggy Hansen would be wanting to see how much of a 'utility' Slade really is. When sometimes Slade looked slow and uncomfortable was alarming to note.
But actually no other All Blacks impressed; and even some, like Dan Carter and T.J.Perenara close to the scrums, sometimes were way short of a good international standard.
Sad to say that eh? What is the future for both these men we may ask more and more in the weeks ahead. Especially as one is so young and the other so new.
And it's three titles too for captain Farah Palmer. In the final in Edmonton, Canada, New Zealand beat England 25-17
Jedforest, Newcastle and Scotland
51 internationals for Scotland 1988-99
Described once as ‘a one-off, a complete and utter mystery’ as a person, Gary Armstrong ended his international career remembered as a deeply steadfast scrumhalf whose commitment to any team he played for could never be denied. The 'mystery' referred to extreme shyness.
But like a lot of shy rugby people Armstrong expressed himself strongly once he ran on to the field. He always tackled way above his diminutive stature, was an elusive runner, especially around the short side of a scrum, and above all was unswerving in his courage. He may have been a quiet man but when he played his final game for his country, captaining the team against the All Blacks at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, he was described afterwards by his coach Jim Telfer as ‘the bravest man I ever saw play for Scotland’.
Armstrong made his debut for Scotland in 1988 and only months later was in the British Isles team which toured Australia. On that trip he failed to make the test teams, losing out to Robert Jones of Wales, but in 1990 he played some of his greatest rugby. Not only was he a powerful force in the Scottish touring team to New Zealand, a team which harried the All Blacks over two close tests, but he also played a pivotal role in Scotland’s epic victory over the ‘auld enemy’, England, in the critical Five Nations and Grand Slam match of that year.
Injuries kept him out for two seasons and one time, after 28 tests, he actually retired from test rugby to concentrate on his dearly loved Jedforest team. But Scotland seemed to always call Armstrong back and each time they did he gave his usual 110%. He was captain of Scotland when they won the Five Nations in 1999 (of great satisfaction considering they were 100-1 outsiders when the season started). He also was one of the rare players to play the 1991 World Cup series, then miss the 1995 series in South Africa (he was injured), only to be back for the World Cup in 1999.
He retired from international play after captaining and playing strongly in the quarter-final match against New Zealand on his beloved Murrayfield.
After sevens years of productive play as a professional with the Newcastle Falcons, Armstrong became one of the first professionals with the new Scottish Borders professional team in 2002, signing as a 35 year old on a three-year contract!
How many test matches for Australia did the three famous Ella brothers play, on the field at the same time?