Scotland vs Northland Vikings
Otara Park, Whangarei
9th June, 2000
Vikings 42 - Scotland 16
(8-13 @ half-time)
Referee: Paddy O'Brien
Well if this match was anything to go by the Scots are really going to struggle on their tour of NZ.
The Northland Vikings team had some great talent and the Scots picked an almost full strength side as a result.
Unfortunately the Scottish squad was not strong enough to compete for a full 80 minutes and in the end they got a good old fashioned thrashing, all be it a very entertaining one. (from a kiwi perspective at least!!)
Before the match I would have said that if the All Blacks can beat the Scots by that sort of scoreline later in the month then I would be happy. I didn't quite expect a composite Northland team, thrown together on Wednesday to thump the bonny boys quite so convincingly!
Sure the Scots were in it at half-time and really dominated the set pieces (and as a result possession and territory) for much of the game but their blind-side and cover defence was poor for much of the game. After halfback and captain Andy Nicol went down with a suspected broken ankle early in the second half the Scottish defence turned from poor to down-right terrible which resulted in the Vikings running in five unanswered tries in the last 30 minutes.
The entire Vikings team played well but the stand-outs for me were: Sevens heroes Tony Monaghan (10) and Justin Wilson (14), who looked really classy, playing in control and taking the right option most of the time. Wilson really reminds me of Cullen in a lot of his general play with ball in hand, just seems to have that extra bit of time and space to play with. In the forwards the tight five really played well (although the lineout work was a bit untidy), with captain Glenn Taylor and his locking partner Chris Jack having storming games and Con Barrell rumbling around the park in fine style.
Standouts for the Scots were few and far between, although Gregor Townsend (13) showed his class on attack and defense and Gordon Simpson (7) played a great game in the loose. The back three of the Scots were really disappointing, I guess they were nervous but they never really looked like doing anything with the ball in hand preferring to kick it aimlessly down field fairly often.
All in all a shocking start for the Scots. After claiming all week how important it was to get off to a good start on the tour they are bound to be pretty dejected after that effort. I hope for their sake they can improve markedly from here!
TRIES Wilson, Monaghan, Jack, Collins, Taylor, Ross
KICKING Taylor (2 Con, 2 Pen)
KICKING Hodge (1 Con, 3 Pen)