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Rugby | International Rugby

All Blacks too strong for Scotland



New Zealand overpowered Scotland 49-3 at Murrayfield on Saturday, a victory that left them halfway to a third 'grand slam' in five years.

The All Blacks were out of sight before the half hour mark after four tries, all converted by fly-half Dan Carter, left them 28-3 in front.

In all they scored seven tries with Hosea Gear and Mils Muliaina -- on his record-equalling 92nd Test appearance -- both crossing twice in a match where Sonny Bill Williams repeatedly opened up Scotland's defence with deft passes.

This win ensured New Zealand remained unbeaten against Scotland, with the 105-year-old record between the countries now showing 26 All Black wins in 28 Tests with two draws.

The match ended on an especially worrying note for Scotland with Max Evans - in the week his brother Thom had to retire from rugby as a reult of a neck injury sustained against Wales in last season's Six Nations - continuing to receive treatment after his head collided with the leg of All Black No 8 Kieran Read.

Unfortunately for Scotland, New Zealand came into this fixture with a sense of grievance after last weekend's 26-16 win over England at Twickenham.

They were unhappy with their own display and with the four-week suspension, reduced to two on appeal here Friday, handed out to hooker Keven Mealamu for headbutting England captain Lewis Moody.

The All Blacks, unlike several recent matches against Scotland, were at pretty much full-strength with captain Richie McCaw and full-back Muliaina both equalling former skipper Sean Fitzpatrick's New Zealand record of 92 caps.

Scotland though were unbeaten in their last four matches but this was their first Test since completing a 2-0 series win in Argentina in June.

Remarkably, in view of what came later, Scotland scored first, with Australia-born fly-half Dan Parks kicking a 40 metre penalty.

But that was as good as it got for Scotland, who didn't help their own cause with a couple of early knock-ons.

Then, from a scrum, quick ball was provided to scrum-half Jimmy Cowan, who found Williams before the centre's superb pass out of the back of the hand released Gear for a ninth minute try under the posts.

Carter converted and minutes later went over for a try himself.

From turnover ball, right wing Isaia Toeava burst clear and Carter then collected a poor pass off his toes before scoring.

New Zealand's third try followed soon afterwards, created by a swift exchange of passes between blindside flanker Liam Messam and Carter before the fly-half sent in Muliaina.

Scotland coach Andy Robinson had warned his side they could "not afford to drop off for five seconds" but Gear's second try, with Carter again the instigator, saw the wing evade three feeble attempted tackles.

Scotland tried to rally but flanker Kelly Brown was driven backwards before Rory Lamont knocked on.

Their problems were compounded when scrum-half and captain Mike Blair was injured, allowing replacement Greig Laidlaw - the nephew of former Scotland No 9 Roy - to make his debut.

Early in the second half, New Zealand had a fifth try when another Williams pass out of the back of the hand led to Muliaina going over.

Carter made no mistake with the tough conversion but, after a match haul of 15 points, he was withdrawn with 30 minutes left.

There was some respite for Scotland as All Black coach Graham Henry brought on several replacements - a move that probably prevented New Zealand from topping their record win 69-20 win over Scotland back in 2000.

But there was still time for New Zealand to add two more tries, from outside centre Conrad Smith and replacement scrum-half Andy Ellis.

Wales, who haven't beaten New Zealand in 57 years, will attempt to stem the All Black tide next weekend.

Meanwhile Scotland will face world champions South Africa, with the Springboks fresh from a 29-25 victory over Wales.

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