Scotland: Gregor Townsend frustrated after missing chance to claim historic win over All Blacks

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend Credit: Alamy
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend Credit: Alamy

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend bemoaned his side’s inability to clinch an historic victory in Sunday’s Autumn Nations Series international with New Zealand at Murrayfield on Sunday.

The Scots fought back from a 14-0 deficit to score 23 unanswered points but could not close out the match against the All Blacks, who finished stronger during the fixture’s final quarter and eventually clinched a 31-23 victory.

Still winless against New Zealand

But Townsend was left frustrated by the game’s outcome, which is New Zealand‘s 30th win out of 32 Tests against the Scots, whose best results in this fixture were two draws in 1964 and 1983.

“I feel mainly disappointment,” he said. “We don’t get to play New Zealand every couple of years like we used to, it has been five years (since the last meeting). That will be the biggest lead we have had over New Zealand in our history and we didn’t win.

“We scored 23 points to nil during a 50-minute period. With those margins you have to kick on and win. You have to see out the win and we did not do that.”

Townsend admitted it was one of the toughest results during his reign.

“Probably Japan in the (2019) World Cup will be up there with this,” he said. “But this is disappointing because you don’t get to play New Zealand (often) and we have never beaten them in our history so when you play like that and get a lead, you feel you should win and we didn’t.”

The head coach was delighted with how his players fought back from trailing 14-0 but was equally disappointed with how they relinquished their own nine-point lead after Jack Dempsey was sent to the sin bin.

“We were nine points up and controlled a fair bit of our own destiny in those last 15 minutes,” he said. “New Zealand were always going to come back into it, they are a very good team, and we allowed them to get better field positions and penalties.

“I didn’t think they were doing anything different and we were containing them.

“Our management of when to play and when to kick was excellent, our chase was outstanding, but we let them back in with a couple of errors. The yellow card put us under pressure. Yellow cards lift the opposition and that is when they did damage.”

Townsend was full of praise for returning fly-half Finn Russell, who impressed after being contentiously omitted from Scotland’s initial squad. Russell was successful with all four of his kicks at goal, and finished with an 11-point contribution.

“I thought he was very good,” he said. “His decision-making around where to play, when to pay, was very good. His goal-kicking was excellent.”

Disappointed for Doddie Weir

He was also disappointed his side could not get a victory in front of Doddie Weir, his 52-year-old former international team-mate, who presented the match ball before kick-off on a rare return to Murrayfield as he continues to fight motor neurone disease.

“It was a big occasion for Doddie and his family,” Townsend said.

“It was brilliant to hear the crowd show their appreciation for him. We wanted to win the game for Doddie and we didn’t.”

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