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Scotland looking ahead despite heavy NZ loss at #JWC2014

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scottishrugby.org     11 Jun 2014     Getty Images

Head coach Sean Lineen said: “It’s obviously a disappointing result, on the big stage, and some players had a better game than others.

“I was really pleased with the scrum, and the defensive work was much improved as was line speed, and we put in some good tackles.”

Early promise to front up to New Zealand in their back yard came to nothing, however, despite solid scrummaging and a much-improved defence.

Lineen said: “We just made too many errors and our job as coaches is to improve the players. It was always going to be a challenging pool and our players just haven’t had the exposure to this level of rugby.

“We just need to stay strong and regroup for the last game – we’ve got Italy in our fourth game so we’ve just got to get on with it.”

First half

Led out for the first time by centre Blair Hutchison, things looked promising in the opening ten minutes, with Scotland bossing the play and registering 85% possession, but it was possession they couldn’t turn into points. Stand-off Ben Chalmers had the first chance to put points on the board when a penalty was awarded for infringement at the breakdown but the kick swerved off kilter in the wind.

It was a full five minutes before New Zealand had ball and mounted the first attack but Scotland’s defence held all the way to the line, where a try attempt was held up.

Eleven minutes into the game, however, New Zealand struck to plough over the line for the first try, but they were made to work for the score which was duly converted. Despite some thumping tackles from fullback Ruairidh Young, the opposition saw the gap and crossed again within five minutes, with extras.

It was New Zealand who were duly pinged for the next few mistakes, but as before Scotland were unable to capitalise on the advantage. As the half-hour approached, the momentum changed and New Zealand hit their stride, scoring another converted try five minutes before half time. Scotland had the chance to put points on the board before the break, but the penalty attempt by Chalmers was hooked.

Second half

Fresh legs from half the bench as the second half kicked off went some way to regaining momentum but the strength of Scotland’s scrum was offset by challenges in the lineout and too many missed passes, spilled balls and gaps in defence. New Zealand had to beat Scotland by at least five points and with four or more tries and they achieved the second ask eight minutes into the second half.

Four more tries in the second half underlined New Zealand’s domination however four minutes before the whistle, Scotland at last had something to cheer about. Late replacement Damien Hoyland capitalised on a fumbled pass, intercepted and legged it 80m up the wing, ball in both hands, to touch down for the Scots’ first points, the try converted by Gavin Lowe. Final score 54-7.

Scotland will now face Italy in the 9th to 12th place play-off on Sunday 15 June at ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe (kick-off 3.05pm local, 4.05am UK)