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Benito Masilevu's huge side-steps

Monday, November 15, 2010

The All Blacks show their class against Scotland at Murrayfield

The All Blacks show their class against Scotland at Murrayfield

New Zealand hammered Scotland 49-3 in front of 58 000 at Murrayfield on Saturday, scoring seven tries and bringing to an end the home side's run of four unbeaten matches. Sonny Bill Williams was a deserving Man of the Match.

While there was talk during the week of the Scots looking for a big performance, that was put to bed fast as the All Blacks blew them away with their far superior finishing and deft touches, led by Williams in the midfield.

The big centre was playing in only his second Test but showed what hes capable of by setting up tries for those around him on more than one occasion.

"Williams has everything. It's fantastic he's in our sport," said Scotland coach Andy Robinson. "We have let the nation down," he added bluntly, referring to his team.

By the end of the game the Scottish commentators had resigned themselves to a humiliating defeat, and instead sang the praises of the All Blacks, and Williams in particular. He himself was happy with the game, but credited his support runners.

"You're only as good as your support play and you probably can't get much better than the boys that I played alongside in the last couple of weeks. It does make it a lot easier," Williams said. "I just hope they catch it, because if they don't catch it...

"It was a step forward - now I know I can mix it at this level -- but in saying that there's still big games ahead and there's a long way to go. Ma'a and Conrad to me are the best midfield combination in the world. As long as I can keep my foot in there and hopefully keep staying in that 22 and get a bit of game time here and there, I know I'll improve."

New Zealand travel to Dublin next to face Ireland, a team theyve never lost to. Scotland host South Africa at Murrayfield, where both sides will be looking to put in better performances than was seen on the weekend.


Time: 05:13

Posted at 10:13 pm | 46 comments

Viewing 46 comments

Anonymous November 15, 2010 10:14 pm

awesome performance by sonny

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Anonymous November 15, 2010 10:17 pm

please keep gear in the team mr henry, rokocoko just doesnt have that spark anymore. gear is a game breaker and deserves his spot.

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Anonymous November 15, 2010 10:17 pm

Almost first... Indeed a great performance by Sonny Bill!

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Ryan November 15, 2010 10:22 pm

SONNNNNYYY BROOOO!!!!

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Mike November 15, 2010 10:32 pm

A big step backwards for Scotland there I feel. They were always going to be outclassed, but it was a bit embarrassing at times. Lets hope they can resume the upwards progress.

Conversely, they ABs were great. Give them possession and they'll cut you to bits. I have a terrible fear that Ireland's 'strategy' will be kicking to the ABs. If that happens I can see the Kiwis running in 6 or 8 tries, given how poor Ireland have been this year - 5 losses in 6 games or something? And very lucky to beat Samoa.

I'm afraid. Very afraid. ^^

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Anonymous November 15, 2010 10:33 pm

they make it look so damn easy

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TheMightyAB's November 15, 2010 10:43 pm

Mean Game from the Blackness. Was hoping a Braver performance from Scotland but they were simply outclassed. Reading that the backs have been working on there work at the break down it really showed in there wide defense and the ability from sonny and co to turn over ball. SBW ability to offload in the tackle has add a extra dimension in attack but I still would like to see him straighten the attack and have a crack. So many power players in this AB'S team and good finishers. Gear finally over thrown Smokey joe on the wing Corry jane will be back for Ireland so its a more balanced back three. Conrad was a better choice at 13 then the SBW Nonu combo Smith's the glue that holds the defensive line together.
Still though there's some work to do at scrum time but theres no complants with Owen Franks on D he has the ability to smash and knock back players in the tackle. I hope ireland put up a stiffer challenge then there economy.

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mooloo November 15, 2010 10:56 pm

Can't say much about Sonny Bill that hasn't been said, lovely to watch.. but he did push his luck on some passes later in the game and missed his man, a better side would've punished the ABs for it.
Best game yet by Toeava, by a mile, Gear and Messam too.
What's with McDonald's yips when kicking for touch? When his free kick went touch in goal, instead of having the throw in a few metres from the line, NZ were suddenly pressed back in their own half. In a tougher situation like in HK this sort of stuff loses matches. He's gotta get it sorted out.

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Anonymous November 15, 2010 11:12 pm

Embarrassment for Scotland, Ireland are next. :(

All Blacks are looking so strong, I've been saying this all year too that horsea gear should replace rokocoko, also I'd love to see cory janes place shared with Isreal Dagg. Just my opinion. ^_^

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zacaria November 15, 2010 11:41 pm

scotland wont be missing those tackles in a couple of weeks

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slippery pete November 15, 2010 11:54 pm

It was never going to be a fair match in terms of potential, but Scotland could've done better.

There was a huge difference in what happened when either side broke the line:

Scotland showed that even a side that loses by 46 points could easily bust through a staggered AB defense (so there's hope), but there'd be no one there to support Southwell or Evans when it happened. The AB's would be the ones closest to the ball runner, not a supporting teammate.

When NZ broke the Scottish line, the Scottish defense wouldn't be anywhere near the runner - it would be two or three supporting AB players ready for an offload.

And the defense needs to be faster at organizing as well. Scotland would hold flat for one (maybe two) phases, but then it'd be sixes and sevens with just one tackler to beat out wide and then you'd score a try. That's unacceptable when playing NZ. I hope Ireland learned something from watching this match (other than to be very afraid).

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slippery pete November 15, 2010 11:56 pm

As a side thought, Dave Pearson pretty much disallowed any kind of breakdown contention all night; neither team was really able to counterruck. Seemed to have no concept of when the ball is out of the ruck (ie - no players over it, on their feet, and engaged in the ruck), or what coming over the top/through the gate means.

I hope neither he nor Steve Walsh is in charge of any important matches during the WC next year...

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 12:17 am

corey jane is one of the few certainties in the new zealand team in my opinion. hes an absolutely class act. hosea gear hasnt faced all the challenges yet under high balls and with regards his kicking game so the juries still out.

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Douglas November 16, 2010 12:21 am

1 -- #12 is the spot for SBW, which is unfortunate for Nonu, because his form has been very strong this year. But SBW is just such a tremendous talent, I think Henry won't be able to resist him becoming a first-choice player soon. Ironically the man to really suffer here is Luke McCalister. At this point, I'd be surprised if he makes the team for RWC, he really needs a huge Super 15.

2 -- This mess with the scrums has to stop, it's just killing the momentum and slowing down games. The ABs clearly having trouble adapting to the NH referees in this department.

3 -- Gear has certainly earned another start. I think the ideal back 3 for NZ would be Dagg, Gear, and Jane. Although I still like Ranger, he's a raw talent with plenty of pace and a pretty mean edge for a backline player.

4 -- Thought Toeava played well, even considering it was Scotland. Showed why he had more line breaks than any player in Super 14 this year.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 12:30 am

"2 -- This mess with the scrums has to stop, it's just killing the momentum and slowing down games. The ABs clearly having trouble adapting to the NH referees in this department."

Even the NH teams do. It's idiotic. The calls are different from each ref and they are all way too slow. I don't understand why this change was brought in and I don't understand why it hasn't been gotten rid of. It's slowing games down at all levels for no reason at all.

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finland phil November 16, 2010 12:40 am

"2 -- This mess with the scrums has to stop, it's just killing the momentum and slowing down games. The ABs clearly having trouble adapting to the NH referees in this department."

I'm pretty sure the delayed scrum calls started this year in the 3N...the problem is that, not ONLY is each referee different, but each SCRUM is different - the old call "crouch, touch, pause, engage" was pretty easy to keep consistent timing-wise; "crouch...touch... pause...engage...(whistle)" isn't.

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mooloo November 16, 2010 12:57 am

Douglas said.. "The ABs clearly having trouble adapting to the NH referees in this department."

No Douglas, I don't think that's the problem.
After hearing the Welsh commentators tell the Aussie pack they should go and play league, and the Eng commentators pontificating about the NH "scrum to win" culture, it's sobering to look at what's actually happening. There were only about 8 scrums in the Eng/Aus game and I don't think any of them went the course, and they were not the reason Eng won. In the NZ/Scot game scrums were being reset constantly and boringly slowly with the ref wandering back and forth through the tunnel like he was lost. To their credit the Scottish commentators were getting sick of it like me and everyone else and said so. I saw some of the France/Fiji game and my heart sank when scrums were called as they were mostly a shambles. If this is the much vaunted NH scrummaging culture then they're welcome to it.

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Tom November 16, 2010 1:11 am

Scrums are a difficult thing.
Despite the NH desire for scrums as a contest the truth is they will always collapse mroe than they stay up.
It's just the nature of a scrum, and it's not actually anyone's fault.
Determining who collpased a scrum is actually often an impossiblity and the truth is that the ref usually just makes a guess, which is often wrong.

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finland phil November 16, 2010 1:28 am

I don't think that the usual action is for refs to guess. Yes, sometimes they do, or they'll just penalize the team who appear to be struggling, but that's not the norm.

Referees are taught not to guess, and are supposed to only penalize what they can physically see. That's actually why you see so many reset scrums if the ref can't tell why they're going down.

This delayed scrum calling only compounds the many issues with scrummaging. I don't know who thought it'd be a good idea, but it doesn't seem to be serving the game at all. It was sobering to watch those History of Rugby clips on this site and see how scrums used to form and hear that they hardly ever used to collapse despite looking rather odd.

Maybe if there was more value put into quick taps, it wouldn't be such an issue...but then you still have knock-ons and forward passes...

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Douglas November 16, 2010 1:28 am

Re: scrums, I agree, was just trying not to come across as anti-NH. I'm all for a fair go at scrum time, but you guys are right, each week a new ref seems to bring a new set of calls/quirks/who knows what that accomplishes nothing other than slowing down the contest and turning fans away.

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Knstler November 16, 2010 2:47 am

SBW, Nonu, Smith, Fruean, four monsters in the centre. Would like to see the last one instead of Toeava in the squad for the WC.

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Tom November 16, 2010 3:18 am

Finland phil, scrums never used to be a problem really because they simply were never contested as much or as fiercly as they are now.
It used to be a case of just engagin casually and then having a bit of a push, while the hooker rucked.
No one engaged like they do now, ie as fast and violently as possible.
They weren't that low to the ground and they weren't very intense and they worked alot better as a result.
Now you've got eight guys all massive, engaging as hard as they can as low to the gournd as possible, and all kinds of tricks and cheating going on.
Under those circumstances they are bound to collapse most of the time.
And the ref usually does guess, it is sometimes anm educated guess, and occaisonally it's spot on, but it's usually a guess.
Because there can be five or ten things all happening at once that lead to a collapse, and the ref just picks the one he thinks he saw and puts his arm one way or the other. He'll often favour the team puching forward, which makes some kind of sense I guess, or more often (and this one really ticks me off) he'll just favour the side he subjectivley thinks is the better srcummagging team.
All in all, the fact no refs are front rowers hashes it up even more, they often don't even realsie what's happening.
It makes for a complicated mess, which is why some teams just try to get the ball in and out of the scrum as quickly as they can to avoid the arbitray nature of penalties and short-arms at the scrum.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 4:02 am

What a performance. But then never doubted how strong this teams is. And agree with other posts, some starting places must have been won from their performance.

For the Scots, good to see they gave some young players some test match time. And believe they did under perform, so expect much more in 6 Nations.

However, I think the best part and a true reflection of the game and the great sportsmen the All Blacks are (I am English), was that when the game was called early (you can see at the end of the vid), 3 All Black players walking over to check on Max Evans. True class. Hope he recovers soon, his brother is a big loss to the game.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 4:40 am

my top ab's backline for the world cup would be
9, weepu
10, carter
11, gear
12, SBW
13, smith
14, jane
15, muliaiina
backups cowan, slade, nonu, dagg, ranger and either kahui or mcallister.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 5:02 am

The Crusaders midfield next year will be Fruean and SBW, running off DC. My God that is terrifying.

Fruean is developing into a monster in his own right. Unfortunately, the only way he's getting a spot at RWC is if Conrad Smith gets hurt. Henry will use Toeava and/or Ranger, because those two can cover midfield as well as wing. Although imo, Toeava's best position is fullback, but in NZ, he's got Muliana and Dagg ahead of him. The # of world class backs in NZ right now is pretty astonishing.

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M'sieur Lock November 16, 2010 5:23 am

The commentators had it spot on: the ABs play simple rugby simply beautifully. The Scots (and truthfully, nearly all other teams) seem to think that in the loose they need to outnumber the ABs. That's why you normally see an opposing side with five or (shamefully) six bodies at the ruck with the scrum half still needing to put in a foot to get the ball moving.

The ABs, as personified by Kepp'n McCaw, know that it's all about coming into the loose man enough to put hands on ball and, when the going gets tough, explode through the opposing team's ruck. If you can't match that, you either have to be man enough to take a hit from a 17 stone no. 7 & Co. or have forwards just good enough to work one or two fast balls to a brilliant backline (see, e.g., Australia).

The ABs just savor the brutality of going into a ruck full blooded. Having a standabout with the boys simply to outnumber the ABs doesn't cut it, and it leaves your midfield and backfield well over-stretched. It's no coincidence that England did much better when they brought on that new bloke who has a bit of an edge to him.

Good on you ABs for playing the game right and for setting the right example. You gotta play tough footie with total commitment to every hit. There's a line between good rough footie where you leave a little on someone and the type of messy footie we normally see out of teams with no answer to Kepp'n McCaw forcing turnover ball after turnover ball other than stamping on his ol' head in a rather undiplomatic fashion.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 6:15 am

@1:45

Five Scotland players in the ruck to three for the ABs. The No. 8 and blindside flanker run the subsequent break. That is training ground rugby (Rugby 102: attack blindside when forwards over-commit) and scandalous loose play by Scottish forwards. The spine of the defense collapsed and you have Dan Carter trotting 10 metres from the touchline waiting for the pass. You simply cannot over-commit like that knowing that the ball is on the ground and secured under the last man's feet waiting to be played.

I know it's tempting to put a boot in on the downed ABs when you feel the game turning and you want to let them know you're still round, but you're mad for leaving your back line out like that. There's a time for putting in the boot as a lock when you're on the counter (slow ball by the touch line; ball is loose under rucking props), and there's a time to sit back and play the post.

The Scots get it wrong--as most do--by substituting untempered aggression for tough, mongrel dog footie.

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goodNumber10 November 16, 2010 6:23 am

interesting that everyone is saying it was embarrassing for Scotland yet Graham Henry interviewed afterwards said their performance was pretty good and he was impressed with them.

AB's were awesome, and just too clinical for them gear has been immense and williams is excellent - glad donald got some game time as well needs the confidence - but there was some good stuff from scotland in there, good ambition, back three's counter attacking was good, front row were immense at set piece.

But they need more penetration from the midfield and forward ball carriers and ball retention needs to be better.

I thought Jackson and laidlaw looked sharp when they came on and hines made a difference, don't forget first game after 6 months as well against an AB side in full flight....

Anyway, lets hope they front up a lot better against SA, tighten up on first phase defence and run them close.

On a side note how disgraceful is andy nicolls commentary he did nothing but slag Scotland off the whole game...

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Hendrick November 16, 2010 6:43 am

I told you the Allbacks were the team to beat, but Scotland was bad very bad. Scotland has a lot of work to do before the world cup.

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good grief November 16, 2010 7:15 am

Just learned Shane Williams is out for 10 weeks...goddamnit, as if it wasn't going to be bad enough when the Welsh faced NZ, now they've got even less to offer in attack.

The utter lack of depth in world-class talent for NH teams becomes all-too apparent when one or two main players gets injured. For NZ and SA, they just call up another S14 star and are ready to go. I wonder what I was smoking, hoping someone, anyone was going to beat the ABs this tour.....and I wonder where I might find some more of it...

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miguel November 16, 2010 7:45 am

SBW is backing up the hype. I was a detractor, still not a believer, but willing to admit I was wrong. We'll see how Henry and Co. handle him and how he becomes further integrated into the team.

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TheMightyAB's November 16, 2010 8:56 am

I think scotland will bounce back from this ,SA will be the game for them. The scrum calls has varied between referee its not a NH thing its a IRB shamble. These is a shame cos even though we have less scrum its still the corner stone of our game and the best attacking platform. Just hope they wake up and shorten the calls.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 9:09 am

yeah thats a real shame about williams, would of loved to have seen him up against gear or jane.

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Von November 16, 2010 10:21 am

Sonny Bill Williams is fast becoming my favourite rugby player. Really adds another dimension to AB back play and I wonder if the style he plays will become the model for future backs. I mean the offloading game in particular, which by his own admission is only as good as the support players. With it being so easy now to give away a penalty when you're tackled, that ability to keep the ball alive looks to be all the more important.

Seems a top bloke in interviews, extraordinarily humble for someone who's achieved so much already and he's only 25.

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Von November 16, 2010 10:32 am

Re Scrums: EVERYONE, on here, in newspapers, other internet fora, commentators, my wife who is only moderately interested in rugby, I mean EVERYONE unanimously recognises that scrums have become a total farce. Or is that everyone except the IRB? Well they're the ones who ballsed it up in the first place with this bizarre spectacle of the four-point set-up. Are they also responsible for the refs' painfully slow pronouncements of each step? And why can't the refs maintain a sensible rhythm for the commands? When you jump out of a plane you're taught to say out loud, one thousand two thousand three thousand four thousand check canopy. Because it takes roughly a second to say the number and the word thousand. The word "elephant" works quite well for this too. Why don't they do something similar so at least the players have some understanding of how long they've got? (Obviously they wouldn't say the word elephant out loud, that would be a bit weird). Anything that delivers some kind of consistency would help.

The uncertainty and generaly slowness of timing means that the whole reason for this ridiculous charade - preventing early engagement from too big a distance - is defeated. Front rows have to second guess when the refs going to actually let them engage so they have to just pile in as soon as they can get away with it - and if you're still waiting for the call you're too late. Also there's such a long gap between pause and engage that players have time to rear up a bit and put more welly into it - exactly as they did before. The whole enterprise is completly pointless and self-defeating. And it looks and sounds ridiculous.

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Mike November 16, 2010 11:13 am

Scrums:

The ball should be put in straight to allow a competition for the ball. The hookers would be busy hooking, not pushing, and there'd be less pressure on both front rows. Secondly, you could win the ball without having to drive the opposition back 5 metres - thus less emphasis on power and the hit.

Perhaps the front rows could bind first? Then the others join, much like league.

The scrum is important in rugby for a few reasons: it ties up all the forwards in a bunch, making space around the pitch for backs to attack. Secondly, the scrum requires players of different shapes. If you take out the scrum, you cut down the range of people 'suited' to rugby. That would make a big difference at grass-roots level, where the game is played for fun.

There has been a trend in the last 15 years or so in Irish schools rugby (which is super-competitive) to play guys with physiques like wing-forwards as props, as scrums are only allowed go back 1 metre. The result is a lack of good young props at senior level where the 'prop' shape is a huge advantage.

(here's a clip of a schools game featuring B&I Lion Keith Earls, from about half way through you can see him get out of bother in midfield, and later run in a try... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oCOLYezvqc )

View Video

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Chris November 16, 2010 1:16 pm

Regarding the scrums, most rugby fans will tolerate and defend the shambles that is the modern scrum. I think what really needs asking is whether the current scrum benefits the game in anyway?

If it annoys rugby fans to the extent it does, what must casual potential fans think of it?

The scrum will have to change in some capacity somewhere down the line.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 2:27 pm

SBW will come back to Toulon after the RWC.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 6:48 pm

Sonny who ? bring back Nonu to the 12 jersey !! Even the 4th or 5th in line for that jersey would have had a good game against such a poor opposition.

Dont fix something that's not broken. Nonu can't be replaced at the moment, he's the world's best 2nd 5/8

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fry November 16, 2010 7:38 pm

I think SBW is giving Nonu a right run for his money. Nonu can crash the line like a beast, but he hasn't got Sonny Bill's offloading skills.

I'd actually like to see SBW at 12 and Ma'a at 13; have Williams suck in defenders and offload it to Nonu...it'd gain at least 10m damn near every time.

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jono November 16, 2010 7:53 pm

there only seems to be a problem with scrums going down at the highest level (top level club and international). rarely go down at local club level and schoolboy. having watched endless scrums as a scrum-half i reckon it's simply the fact that they are all trying to get as low as possible and the props aren't really binding very well (caused by the skin tight shirts?).

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Bill November 16, 2010 10:16 pm

It's more than that.
The amount of bullshit and cheating that front rowers at the top level engage in is shocking.
They have to do it though, because if they don't the other front row will.
At the end of the day there's dozerns and dozens of things that will cause a scrum collapse, penalty or free kick.
Bad footing, poor surface, bad binding, illegal binding, slipping the bind, boring in, not taking the hit, jumping the engagment, missing the engagment call, binding on the arm, loosies coming up to early, losing your body shape or bending your back, waiting too long for the call and faceplanting, etc, etc.
It's a very difficult area of the game and the more that it gets competetive, the more collapses, penalties and free kicks there'll be.
It's just an inherintly unstable thing, a scrum.
It used to work alot better because no one pushed that hard or engaged that agrresiley, it used to be more like a cross bewtween a maul and a ruck.

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Anonymous November 16, 2010 11:47 pm

SBW's offloads and Gear's raw pace/power are very exciting... But I do want to see Nonu get a start against the Irish.

And see SBW off the bench in the last 20 to run through the defense.

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Anonymous November 17, 2010 1:58 pm

Ah, a return to old fashioned rugby where New Zealand are allowed to throw forward passes at will.

Don't know what will has done to deserve that.

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Anonymous November 17, 2010 10:22 pm

Have a cry you whinging girl.

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noms November 18, 2010 2:35 am

which pass was forward exactly you trolless?

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