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'Fend on Stuart Hogg': All Black debutant Mark Telea's dream start at Murrayfield

By Ben Smith
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

All Blacks debutant Mark Telea got off to a dream debut with a try within seven minutes against Scotland at Murrayfield before book ending the test with the match winner in the All Blacks 31-23 win.

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Telea’s first touch came from a wayward David Havili cross-field kick but the Blues’ wing rescued the situation by tracking back for the bouncing ball and then beating Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg one-on-one to break down the right edge.

That break led to the opening try to Scott Barrett from a driving maul after a penalty at the ensuing breakdown after Telea’s break.

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His second touch came from a more accurate cross-field kick from Beauden Barrett, which landed in the in-goal and bounced fortuitously for the No 14 to pounce on for his first test try.

“Not bad aye, not bad,” recalled All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara said of Telea’s debut.

“His first two touches, a fend on Stuart Hogg and a broken tackle and 25 metre carry, next touch try. Not too bad aye.

“Took me about 44 games to get my first try, old mate’s got two.”

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It was a piece of vision from reserve No 9 TJ Perenara that set up Telea’s most important touch, a try down the short side with five minutes remaining that pushed the All Blacks lead out to eight points.

The Hurricanes halfback looked to the open side before sensing a mismatch with some of Scotland’s tight five forwards on the blind. His zippy pass found centre Rieko Ioane punching into a hole, drawing in the last defender.

Ioane was able to turn outward in the tackle and find an offload for Telea who put a fend on the covering lock before diving over. He said “once Rieks gave it, I just had to back myself” of the key moment.

Pleased with a double, Telea said that his experience this week was “another step up” in all aspects from what he was used to from Super Rugby.

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“It’s another step up. I was just telling the others it’s about mental and physical preparation during the week,” Telea told media afterward.

“If you don’t get that right, you’ll be losing so I think that prepping is a big thing.

“For me, I guess that first touch was kind of important, just to get into the game. It helped me build into the game really well.

“It’s just a lot faster, there is not enough space.”

Nobody was happier to see Telea dot down for the second time and secure the game then perhaps All Blacks head coach Ian Foster who was delighted for his debutant.

“Yeah really happy. You couldn’t have done it any better – score an early one, settle your nerves down and then score a pretty important one near the end,” Foster said.

“In between (he) caught the ball, strong carries and I’m just really pleased for him.

“We’ve been watching in the last few weeks and been pretty impressed so it’ll be good to get that first one under his belt.”

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