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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.
40,000 fans welcome popular Manu Samoa onto Eden Park but NZ wins 35-13.
Royal Air Force, Leicester and England
85 internationals for England 1984–96
6 internationals for British Isles 1989-93
Leicester, Newcastle and England
27 internationals for England 1992-98
1 international for British Lions 1997
Two dashing brothers who were regular wingers in England’s selections in the 1980s and 90s.
Dealing first with Rory, who was the elder by nearly six years. He was a dashing wing, as befitted his occupation as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. At the end of his career he had played 85 internationals for England, a record total till beaten by Jason Leonard. His total of test tries scored was also an England record, with 49 scored (plus one in a Lions test) boosting his final total to 50. This placed him second on the all-time test try-scoring record, behind David Campese’s 64 tries. Ironically his final tally of test tries came during a time when England was in a period of playing mostly ten-man rugby. Rory Underwood gained a reputation for being underused on occasions but having a rare talent for scoring tries when the ball did come his way.
Rory was born in Middlesbrough and Tony in Ipoh, Malaysia, the brothers were of part-Chinese origins, a rugby rarity in itself, and they spent some of their childhood in Malaysia. Rory’s first cap was against Ireland in 1984. Most of his caps were won on the left wing, but he could play more than competently on the right side (his English record-equaling total of five tries against Fiji at Twickenham in 1989 came when he was playing on the right wing side).
Rory’s Air Force commitments meant he missed several England tours, which meant his test match tally could have been even higher. This popular and dynamic England star was a member of the England team which contested the three Rugby World Cups, in 1987, 1991 and 1995; he played in three Grand Slam-winning England seasons, plus four Five Nations titles. He played in the 1991 World Cup final at Twickenham after scoring four tries in the lead-up games. He also toured with the British Isles to Australia in 1989 and to New Zealand in 1993.
Tony Underwood first came to the fore in 1989 when he appeared for Barbarians Club against the touring All Blacks at Twickenham. He made the England team for a tour to Argentina the following year but did not play an actual test until late in 1992. As his brother Rory was on the other wing (v Canada at Wembley) they became the first pair of brothers to play in an England team since Arthur and Harold Wheatley in 1938.
The forte of Tony’s game was blistering acceleration and a huge confidence to use it well. He toured New Zealand, with his brother in the 1993 British Lions and the two also shared England’s Grand Slam win in 1995. Tony had a second Lions tour, to South Africa in 1997.
At the 1995 World Cup in South Africa Tony had the extremely unenviable task of marking a rampant Jonah Lomu of New Zealand in one of the semi-finals games. Sadly, for England’s hopes at that tournament, and the memory of Tony Underwood as an international player, the video of him being repeatedly trampled underfoot or run around by the giant-sized Lomu, as he went on to score four tries, has been played over and over again. Tony deserved better than this. At his best he was a top player capable of many good things on the field, and like his brother, one of the best wingers England has ever produced.
How many All Blacks played for New Zealand in 2013?