Jeese!! - how much do the All Blacks rely on Mehrtens?!! It was like the front tyre blowing out on a Formula 1 car when Mehrtens left the field against Scotland. Giving due credit to Scotland - they definitely lifted their game in the second half - but the All Blacks looked like the team we all hated to watch last year. The rudder was gone and they drifted aimlessly around Murrayfield while an impassioned Scottish team, playing superbly and encouraged by an incredible Murrayfield crowd (finally!) won the second half resoundingly.
Justin Marshall was average again... Rumours are that Hart was giving him a whole game to "prove himself"... he didn't do too much wrong, but his passing was still slow and he definitely suffered in the second half (but which All Blacks didn't?) Bring on Kelleher for the semi! So far everything he has touched has turned to gold.... except Wilson; he was gold already, and proved it again with another superb run down the sideline for a great try set up by that man Mehrtens.
Lomu was hot and cold, depending on which gear he was in.. When the gearbox was crunched unwillingly into reverse he showed the world why he in not, and never will be, a fullback. When in 3rd gear he was as awesome as ever. But the Scots showed as South Africa did in the 1995 World Cup final, that if you catch him while he's still in second gear, you can bring him down... but it still takes two or three to do it!
The strangest moment in the game was the dropgoal Townsend slotted when Scotland were down 25 - 3. The second time he has done this in the World Cup... really odd. maybe he figured he could do even better than Jannie de Beer and win the game with 10 drop goals... Beats me.
The AB defence was fantastic in the first half... really strong first up tackles, punching the Scots back and making the advantage line seem more like the horizon for them! And as far as I could see, done from an on-side position. But then I'm a little biased. I was particularly interested in this because I feel many of the back lines are coming up offside in this tournament and not being pinged nearly as often as needed. Especially England, who have been all over every back line they have played. Most notable the unlucky Fijians, who were never allowed to get their back line moving by an offside England pack. But that's all history - and so is England!! Tee hee hee..
You almost got the feeling that the All Blacks felt the Scots deserved their tries... that somehow they too felt it was fitting that Scotland had a strong finish to the game. I am guessing they have a soft spot for the kilted ones, who always play with such passion and commitment. Somehow it was a very satisfying end to the game... New Zealand continue through to the semi finals with a good win, and Scotland win their fans over and the admiration of anybody who watched the game, with a fantastic second half performance. Jim Telfer would have been happiest with a win, but the defeat was far from disappointment and the second half display was fitting exit for a great coach... and for Gary Armstrong, the Scottish captain, who by the way, had a great game.
So, all Kiwi fans hold their breath, waiting for the verdict on Mehrtens' injury... A knee problem that could cost the Blacks the Trophy.