Commonwealth Games 2014: Scots lose rugby to ‘cynical’ All Blacks – The Guardian

Colin Gregor believes his Scotland sevens side rattled the all-conquering New Zealand at Ibrox as the All Blacks clung on for a 17-14 win.

The four-time Commonwealth champions, who have won every match they have played at the Games, surged ahead with three tries in a dominant first-half display. But, when the hosts regrouped at the break, the All Blacks resorted to some cynical tactics to ensure they retained their unbeaten record.

At one point, they had only five men on the field after Gillies Kaka and Tim Mikkelson were sent to the sin-bin for blatant fouls that robbed Scotland of a chance to score. Gregor said: ?We have played New Zealand loads of times on the World Series over the years, but that is the closest we have taken them for a while. You could tell they were worried about us. They requested independent touch judges before the game, which they wouldn?t have done in the past. The crowd helped us as well, but it?s a frustrating result.?

At the home of Scottish football?s fallen giants Rangers, 45,000 fans helped generate an atmosphere more akin to an Old Firm derby than a rugby contest.

New Zealand did their best to hush the home support as Ben Lam found space down the right to jog in the opening score. Even with three full 15-a-side internationals in their starting lineup ? including British and Irish Lion Stuart Hogg ? Scotland could not live with the world champions, who streaked further ahead with Sherwin Stowers? two tries.

Spurred on by the home crowd, Scotland came out for the second seven-minute period all pumped up. First Lee Jones darted in to put his side on the scoreboard after Mark Bennett did well to make space for the Glasgow wing after drawing in his opposite number.

Then, with the pressure growing, Kaka and Mikkelson resorted to underhand tactics. The players were sin-binned within seconds of each other, allowing Jones to make the most of the two-man advantage and cross over again with a minute left.

Scotland knew they had to win possession back straight from the restart if they were to have any hopes of ending the All Blacks? 25-game winning streak, but the reigning champions clung on to the ball before seeing out the final stages without any further damage.

Jones said: ?It was close, but we let them get away in the first half. A 17-point lead is always going to be tough to bring back in. We kept hold of the ball in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. They cynically had to break down a couple of our attacks which could have led to tries, but we showed we have got enough to get out of the group. That?s our first game and we will only get better. Our target is to medal and if we can get through the group we are well capable of doing that.?

Earlier on Saturday, Wales followed up resounding results from the Kiwis ? who thumped Canada 39-0 in the opening match of the day ? and Australia (62-7 winners over Sri Lanka) to smash Malaysia 52-0.

Adam Thomas had the Welsh ahead after 80 seconds, and James Davis? second-half hat-trick rounded off a comprehensive victory.

In Pool B, England got their campaign under way with an emphatic 57-0 victory of their own. Daniel Norton, Philip Burgess and James Rodwell all touched down for doubles in the eight-try win over Sri Lanka.

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