Monday, 24 September 2007

Rugby World Cup: New Zealand V Scotland

Scotland 0 - All Blacks 40

If this was five years ago, an All Black scoreline of 40 to O against the Scots would be a cherished moment. However, we’ve come to expect an awful lot of Henry’s All Blacks in the last few years and instead of jubilation there is a general feeling of disquiet that the New Zealanders have still not bought their A-game to this tournament.

The largest problem was the amount of turnover ball and unforced errors committed by the New Zealanders. The All Blacks play a high risk game but their handling constantly let them down, (with a few perpetrators in particular more guilty than others). Oh yes, their scrum was strong and their lineout not too bad, but they struggled for large amounts of the game to capitalise into points their forward superiority. Worrying.

Also disturbing was the lack of attack. The All Blacks were content to take the ball up inwardly, often excluding a backline that stood extremely flat. We didn’t get an opportunity to see the centre combination of Smith and McAlister work because the ball hardly ever went wide. When it did, rest assured there was a handling error to bring along a break in play.

This shouldn’t take away from a Scottish defence that was committed and got right into New Zealand faces a la Springbok style. The Scots played often to the edge of the law and managed to disrupt a kiwi team that seemed under-energised – content to force things in all the wrong places.

There is some anger at Frank Hadden too and his omission of star players to face the All Blacks. Not only did it temper down the spectacle on home turf at Murrayfield for the Scottish faithful(and kiwi fans); but it sent a message out to his own team that they are not good enough to win against the All Blacks. This isn’t a message that a top tier international rugby team should make in public. Fake it if you must, but don’t back down from a challenge. No matter how much you feel like moaning you haven’t got enough turnaround time between games.

For ruggerblogger player ratings - please go here. For match report: scrumbag

1 comment:

boomshanka said...

"Grey strip part of problem?" - yep, i think a part of it. Rugby (as with most sport) is instinct and reaction - if the opposition looks similar to you then your reaction time is dulled by having to 'think' and interpret. Be interesting to hear what the players say.