|Scotland (17) 23|
|Try: Penalty try, Graham Versus : Russell Pens: Russell 3|
|New Zealand (14) 31|
|Try: Taukei’aho, Telea 2, S Barrett The inconvenients: J. Barrett 4 Pen: J Barrett|
Scotland failed to end a 117-year wait for a first-ever win against New Zealand as the beleaguered All Blacks fought back to earn a thriller at Murrayfield.
The tourists took a 14-0 lead after just seven minutes thanks to tries from Samisoni Taukei’aho and debutant Mark Telea.
But Scotland were level just seven minutes later when Stuart Hogg was pulled off for a penalty try and Darcy Graham intercepted and ran into the corner.
The returning Finn Russell added three penalties as Scotland scored an unanswered 23 points, but they had to regret some missed chances and the sin of Jack Dempsey in the final quarter.
The All Blacks – who had been on the back foot for much of the game – took full advantage when Scott Barrett crashed and his brother Jordie converted to put them back in the lead, before Telea added his second to seal the victory five minutes from time.
When the All Blacks were last at Edinburgh in 2017, only a Beauden Barrett try-saver on Hogg halted a potentially historic victory as the tourists held on for a five-point victory.
Then, as now, Scottish players and fans were inspired by the presence of Doddie Weir. The legendary lock presented the match ball five years after launching his foundation, which has raised millions for motor neurone disease research.
But even with that powerful emotional leverage to be had, few had hopes of repeating the close game of 2017, let alone a first-ever victory against New Zealand. Even this flawed version of them.
And anyone in Murrayfield who had hope might have thought to head for the pub when Taukei’aho crashed with the visitors’ first attack and Telea pounced on a cross kick for a first score to carry it at 14-0 after seven minutes. .
But Scotland have found everything they lost at the end of 2021. Townsend’s side have rediscovered intensity, precision and inspiration.
Hogg, back to his best, crossed the line and kicked, forcing Anton Lienert-Brown out to prevent a try. The cross went to waste and Scotland picked up seven points.
He was nearly 14 when Graham caught David Havili’s soft pass and caused a sensation in front of two black shirts.
Russell, the main protagonist having parachuted straight into the opener after not being selected for the original team, added a penalty on his conversion to give the Scots a 17-14 lead at the break.
It could have been more too. Graham flew around the corner but had one foot on the sidelines, Jamie Ritchie was made for a double move down the line, and Duhan van der Merwe was stopped just short of it.
When play resumed, the ordinary-looking All Blacks pulled wide offside and the pissed off Russell took the lead of the six. Was the unthinkable happening?
Hogg pulled away with a try and then a scrum penalty allowed Russell to extend the gap to nine points, and Scotland’s 23rd unanswered.
Murrayfield swollen with conviction. By this stage, New Zealand were in double digits for penalties conceded, their aura fading fast.
Jordie Barrett’s penalty made it a six-point game again as the tourists stopped the flow of Scottish points with 18 minutes remaining.
Then came the turning point. Dempsey was booked for a deliberate hit as he ran off the line to thwart an All Blacks push, and from the resulting scrum the visitors leapt.
Scott Barrett dug in from close range and his brother Jordie converted to put New Zealand ahead by a single point.
At this point, the outcome was inevitable. And of course, the All Blacks secured victory.
Relentless pressure freed Telea to thump the whitewash in the corner and just about put the ball on the ground, and Barrett nailed the conversion from the touchline to rub salt into Scotland’s wounds.
It’s the 30th win against the Scots for New Zealand unbeaten in 32, but damn it, they got scared.
Scotland: Hogg; Graham, Harris, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, Price; Schoeman, Brown, Z Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie (captain), Watson, M Fagerson
Subs: Ashman, Sutherland, Nel, J Gray, Dempsey, White, Kinghorn, Bennett.
New Zealand:J Barrett; Telea, Lienert-Brown, Havili, Clarke; Barrett B, Christie; De Groot, Taukei’aho, Laulala, Whitelock (captain), S Barrett, A Ioane, Papali’i, Savea
Replacements: Taylor, Bower, Newell, Vaa’i, Frizell, Perenara, Perofeta, R Ioane.