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'Ruthless': Ireland's blueprint for All Blacks toppling going unused

By Ned Lester
Finn Russel slots the penalty kick against the All Blacks. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Scotland had their sights firmly set on being the next side to claim a historic victory over the All Blacks when the two locked horns at Murrayfield on the weekend, but again came up painfully short, a failure that Kiwi pundits have put down to lack of ambition in their gameplan.

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Ian Foster’s year of historic losses is nearing the rearview and barring a remarkable scoreline at Twickenham, the record books can be safely returned to the shelves of NZR for another summer.

The major addition to that book is Ireland’s maiden series win on New Zealand soil during the July series; a victory that should hold more tactical inspiration with their northern neighbours according to Aotearoa Rugby Pod panellist and former All Black James Parsons.

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“Ireland were just ruthless when they got penalties,” Parsons explained. “They just kicked to the corner and they just kept coming at us, I felt like Wales took the three (points), Scotland (too).

“I’m not saying that was the making or breaking but I feel like you’ve got to come in with that attitude, like ‘we’re going to win this game, we’re going to take it away from you, you’re not going to have a chance, you’re not going to have a sniff, you’re not going to have the ability to have a good twenty minutes and come back.’

“Nine points off the boot from (Finn) Russell after the break is great, but it just kept the All Blacks in touch mentally, and it was just enough to make them feel that they’re still in that touching distance. If they kick to the corner, it doesn’t work.”

Historically, a point of difference the All Blacks have claimed is their relentlessness in the pursuit of seven points as opposed to three, backing their attacking threats and putting their opponents under constant scoreboard pressure.

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While the team still possess some premier attacking talent, their ability to execute and achieve that scoreboard pressure has waned of late and the Ireland series was seen by some as a changing of the guard.

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Parsons went on to illustrate how the New Zealand side were defeated by familiar tactics.

“The one thing I learned out of that Ireland series is that when they didn’t score, they sapped so much energy and then so on the flip side of the ball when the All Blacks were trying to attack, it wasn’t as fluent as what you’d expect.”

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Scotland’s inability to fatigue the All Blacks throughout the first three-quarters of the match made way for another hallmark of the All Blacks’ game, a strong closing 20 minutes led by an explosive bench.

Parsons’ co-panellist Bryn Hall summarised the match with that in mind.

“I think for Scotland, man, just think again, one that got away because you’d have to say for sixty minutes of that match, bar the first two tries from the All Blacks, they dictated terms.”

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