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Scotland need wins, not glorious defeats – Andy Goode

By Andy Goode
Scotland players reacts after a narrow loss to NZ in 2017.

The All Blacks got out of jail on Saturday and you couldn’t help but be impressed by Scotland and the whole atmosphere at Murrayfield but this side must have more ambition and need to turn those glorious defeats into victories.

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Everyone is talking about pride in defeat but ultimately it is another defeat for Scotland. They have turned a corner in the past couple of years and look like they could be ready to compete at the top level but they now need to win a game like that to make a real statement.

I’ve got no doubt that Scotland will have success under Gregor Townsend and they do deserve praise for competing with the best team in the world but the extent of their success will depend on their ambition moving forwards and I think they’ll be aiming for more than just running the All Blacks close.

Gregor was the ultimate competitor and the Scottish players will be desperate to turn these valiant defeats into victories, so they won’t just be content with Saturday.

With players like Huw Jones, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg in their side, they’re always going to pose an attacking threat but they had clearly worked hard on defence after being shambolic at times against Samoa.

Everyone said their front five was too lightweight and would get blown away by the All Blacks but they proved that wasn’t the case as well.

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The All Blacks were a very fortunate in the end. Kieran Read slapped the ball out of Jonny Gray’s hand after Wyatt Crockett had been sinbinned and they could’ve been down to 13 men, which might have allowed Scotland to break free and win the game. It was classic New Zealand.

Doddie Weir delivering the match ball alongside his three sons before the game was a special moment and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. It was very emotional and that seemed to inspire Scotland and the crowd and the atmosphere up at Murrayfield looked sensational.

Read shook his hand and the All Blacks were clearly moved by it as well and that’s what’s great about rugby. Doddie is a real fighter and wants to make a difference and he embodies the true spirit of rugby and it was great to see both teams and the crowd responding so well to him.

Emotionally, Scotland poured so much into that New Zealand game and it’ll be fascinating to see whether they can go to the well again and replicate that performance or raise their game again to beat Australia this weekend.

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They’ve beaten Australia away, they’ve beaten Ireland and Wales and other good sides and the only two stepping stones for the Scots to get over now in terms of mental hurdles, as well as physical ones, are England and New Zealand.

They’ve never beaten New Zealand and it’s a decade since they last beat England and they’ve only won the Calcutta Cup three times since 1991. England have to go to Murrayfield in the upcoming Six Nations and the Scots will see that as a huge opportunity to show where they’re at now.

More immediately, they have got to back up their performance against the All Blacks with a victory against the Wallabies to really put themselves on the map.

Australia will be up for the fight again but they might need dragging off the floor after the events of the closing stages against England at Twickenham.

I thought the referee had a poor game and everything seemed to go in England’s favour, which led to the Australians’ heads going down and them running out of steam and the scoreline flattered England in the end.

There’s a very high angle of Elliot Daly’s try, which the TMO didn’t see, where it looks like the ball did hit the touchline. Chris Robshaw was about five metres offside before Stephen Moore is penalised for blocking him in the lead up to Marika Koroibete going over too and that was a turning point.

Michael Hooper had a disallowed try in the first half as well and the Aussies weren’t happy with Hooper or Kurtley Beale being yellow-carded, so everything went in England’s favour but they were the better side and deserved to win.

Australia’s frustration was understandable but it was unsavoury to see the amount of players berating the referee and asking him to look at things and we don’t want to go down the same road as football and have people appealing all the time and ranting and raving.

Michael Cheika had fans shouting at him as he was coming down the steps as well and there is no place for that in rugby, regardless of whether he was having a go back.

He has ended up clapping decisions that he didn’t agree with and I’m not a lip reader but if he is found to have used the phrase “******* cheats”, then World Rugby do need to have a look at it because it’s not a good picture to be portrayed to kids, coaches or players across the globe.

Cheika is always animated during games and you can understand his frustration but we all have a responsibility to keep some decorum and you do have to control yourself under pressure.

You only have to go back to Dylan Hartley in the Premiership final a few years ago and he was sent off for using the word “cheat”. Wayne Barnes rightly said that there was no place for that language, whether it was directed at him or another player, so a precedent has been set and World Rugby should look into it.

Ultimately, regardless of the weekend’s action, New Zealand are still the best team in the world and England are still the second best but neither are performing at their absolute maximum right now and that is giving other teams hope.

This time last year, before Ireland beat them, the All Blacks looked almost invincible but teams have worked out ways of being competitive and beating them. England haven’t been able to have a crack at them since 2014 but have won 22 of their last 23 games.

Those two are still out in front but Scotland now look like they can really compete and Ireland are looking strong too, so everything’s building nicely towards a very competitive and wide open Six Nations in 2018.

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William 3 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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