Rugby: Strokosch seeks Scots response

Flanker Alasdair Strokosch is confident Scotland can respond after missing out on a first victory over New Zealand by beating South Africa in Saturday's EMC Test at Murrayfield.

Rugby News: Scotland vs New Zealand

Scotland took an early lead and scored three tries against the world champions for the first time since 1996, yet their weaknesses were ruthlessly exposed as the All Blacks triumphed 51-22. In 107 years and 29 Tests, Scotland are still to beat New Zealand.

Two years ago Andy Robinson's men bounced back from a 49-3 loss to New Zealand to beat then world champions South Africa.

A repeat result, plus victory over Tonga on November 24, is required if Scotland are to return to the world's top eight and avoid a poor seeding at the December 3 draw for the 2015 World Cup.

"It was definitely an opportunity missed," Perpignan blindside Strokosch said.

"We set out to try to make it uncomfortable for them and in spells we did.

"In spells we let them run through us and run round us and that's something we're going to have to fix.

"We've bounced back from this before and we will do it again. We will come back stronger; there's a lot we can take from it.

"We've beaten both teams (South Africa and Tonga) before and I'm sure we will do again."

Holland-born Edinburgh wing Tim Visser's opening try on his Murrayfield debut put Scotland firmly in contention, with the All Blacks leading 13-10 before a blistering burst of three tries saw the tourists take full control of the contest.

Julian Savea, Corey Jane and Andrew Hore scored in quick succession, all three kicks converted by the peerless Dan Carter, who finished with 21 points, nine out of 10 from the boot, in a scintillating playmaking display.

Scotland scrum-half Mike Blair said: "The first 20 minutes went to plan and it was exactly where we wanted to be.

"Then we had 10 minutes where we got ripped open. A combination of them carrying out their sets very effectively and us falling off tackles a wee bit."

Scotland cannot afford to suffer similar failings against the Springboks.

"We beat South Africa the last time we played them, but we're still very aware how strong they are," Blair added.

"I think it will be very important against them that we don't give them that 10-minute period that we gave New Zealand.

"We did a lot of very good stuff, but ultimately when you give a team three tries in 10 minutes there's only going to be one result."

A try in time added on at the end of the first half by tighthead prop Geoff Cross and Visser's second score in the second half gave Scotland some hope, but the All Blacks were never truly troubled.

New Zealand captain Richie McCaw was surprised at the lack of Scottish resistance in 2010 and stated the 2012 contest was tougher. Cross recognised that in his opponents.

"I saw us pressuring New Zealand, I saw them getting spooked, I saw us capitalise on that," Cross said. "We scored three good tries, but we cannot give them and the other teams we're going to play this autumn the opportunities that we did and expect to win.

"If we cut that out, which I firmly believe we'll be doing this week in training, I have every belief that we can go on and win games.

"The important thing going forward is that we cut out those mistakes, which are opportunities for the opposition, and we impose our own game on them, particularly in defence."

Cross was the only specialist tighthead in Scotland's squad for the New Zealand Test and his performance, despite a missed tackle which allowed Hore to score, is likely to be enough to retain his place.

Worcester Warriors tighthead Euan Murray is available again after his Sunday absence and could come into contention, while openside flanker Ross Rennie is out after dislocating a shoulder.

David Denton replaced Rennie and, although he is primarily a number eight or blindside flanker, could start if Robinson opts against selecting a specialist openside against the giant Springbok pack.

If he does choose a forager, Glasgow duo John Barclay and the uncapped Chris Fusaro would come into contention.

The team is to be named on Wednesday, with Jim Hamilton's position at lock under threat from Alastair Kellock, while the places of wing Sean Lamont and centre Nick De Luca might be under pressure from Max Evans.



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