EDINBURGH (Reuters) -New Zealand debutant Mark Telea scored two tries to help the tourists claw their way back from nine points down to see off a feisty Scotland 31-23 in Sunday’s test at Murrayfield.
The All Blacks outscored their hosts by four tries to two but for large parts of the game were on the back foot, recovering in the final 15 minutes to keep up their unbeaten 32-test, 117-year unbeaten record against the Scots.
New Zealand raced into 14-0 lead after seven minutes but the Scots rallied to score 23 unanswered points to lead 23-14 in the second half before the All Blacks regained the initiative to win the game.
Samisoni Taukei'aho and Scott Barrett scored New Zealand’s other tries while Jordie Barrett put over 11 points with the boot. A penalty try and intercept effort from Darcy Graham were Scotland’s scores plus three penalties and two conversions from Finn Russell.
New Zealand took 250 seconds to a score a first try and by seven minutes were 14-0 ahead as Taukei’aho and Telea went over to threaten the potential of a runaway win after scoring 50 points against Wales in Cardiff last week.
Hooker Taukei'aho broke several tackles as he powered over followed by a clever cross-field kick from flyhalf Beauden Barrett which found Telea free on the right wing to cross over for a dream start to his first appearance.
But it did not take long for the game to undergo a dramatic transition as Scotland responded quickly.
Stuart Hogg broke the line and chipped over the New Zealand defence, leading a chase for the tryline. As the ball took a wicked bounce away in the goal area, he was tackled from behind by Anton Lienert-Brown and appealed interference in his bid to touch down the ball. Irish referee Frank Murphy agreed and awarded Scotland a penalty try, sending Lienert-Brown to the sin bin.
Scotland took advantage of the extra man to score a second try two minutes later as Darcy Graham intercepted the ball but still needed to slip two tackles before crashing over.
Russell’s return to the home team, after an emergency recall at the start of the week, added an extra assurance to their play and he hit over three successive penalties to see Scotland 23-14 up after 54 minutes.
But New Zealand’s powerful bench came on to change the complexion of the game, halting the home challenge as Scott Barrett went over in the 66th minute to put the tourists back in front. Telea got his second try four minutes from time to make sure of the victory.
"It was a tough game. I thought Scotland were tremendous, they put us under a lot of pressure," said winning coach Ian Foster. "Our bench was strong and that strength and composure was important."
(Writing by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ken Ferris and Toby Davis)