All Blacks hold on for win over Scotland

Nov 18, 2017 - 10:07 PM A year after Ireland toppled the All Blacks for the first time in Test history, Scotland came within five metres of doing the same thing in an exciting 22-17 loss at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Beauden Barrett's last-gasp tackle on brilliant Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg in the dying seconds ensured the world champions remain unbeaten on their taxing tour of Europe, but it was another close run in an inconsistent year.

For Hogg, it was devastating that his scorching late run and desperate attempt at an offload - ultimately spilled forward - couldn't bring a historic reward.

"It was the brink of something special, wasn't it? The boys were devastated. Like always, I backed my ability and tried to get there," Hogg said.

"Credit to Beauden Barrett for a cracking tackle - I was pretty gutted to chuck the ball away. On another day that comes off."

The late hail-mary play summed up the spirit of the Scots, who rattled the ill-disciplined world champions from the outset.

The All Blacks relied on desperate defence and flashes of brilliance from the likes of winger Rieko Ioane to open the game up, flattered by a 3-3 half-time scoreline.

The, having pushed 12 points clear in the third quarter, yellow cards to flanker Sam Cane and prop Wyatt Crocket opened the door for a late revival from the sixth-ranked hosts and almost a maiden Test win over New Zealand.

Ioane, who shone like a beacon for the All Blacks with his attacking raids, set up hooker Codie Taylor brilliantly for the first try.

Sonny Bill Williams created a try for Damian McKenzie from a pinpoint grubber, and followed up with a trademark offload to send Barrett in for the side's third.

Twice down by 12 points, Scotland found ways to score through lock Jonny Gray and centre Huw Jones, whose 77th-minute try laid the platform for a storming finish.

However it was all in vain, thanks to Barrett's late tackle.

Coach Steve Hansen rejected the suggestion relief was his prevailing emotion.

"I was pretty satisfied, I thought it was a great game," Hansen said.

"There's a few things we need to get better at, no doubt about that, but we expected what we got - Scotland have been improving over the last 12-18 months (and) it was a pretty impressive performance."

The Test's most contentious moment came midway through the first spell when Hogg leapt for a high ball, making heavy contact with Waisake Naholo on the way down.

The 67,000-strong crowd demanded a serious sanction against the All Blacks winger, but match officials deemed the offence worthy of a penalty only.

Scottish coach Gregor Townsend was disappointed by the ruling but overall was thrilled with his team's skill and execution, throwing the Kiwis off their game.

"To not get that final try was disappointing but it's a huge effort from our players and we can take a lot from that game," Townsend said.

Source: AAP

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