The All Blacks ran in six tries on their way to a 51-22 victory over a determined Scotland side at Murrayfield on Sunday.
Scotland have never beaten New Zealand and, judged by today, they never will. They were brave, well organised and creative but they were not really going to get close. Six tries to three it was and even when a Greig Laidlaw penalty made it 10-all at 23 minutes, you knew there was a deluge waiting to happen, and it did. In the last 12 minutes of the half, New Zealand scored 24 points.
There were differences - two of them amongst the greatest players in the history of the game, Daniel Carter and Richie McCaw, both of whom had a huge impact on the game. It was not a full New Zealand side but those two can make any side a full side.
The proceedings started with ceremony - the firing of the long gun, the silence for Remembrance lest we forget, the cry of the bagpipes from the lone piper on the roof, the flags at half mast, the long gun again, the anthems and then the kamate haka. Then the ball was delivered to Carter by Sir Christopher Hoy, once a flyhalf but famously a cyclist with six medals of Olympian gold.
The All Blacks wore their new jerseys with the AIG advert, the Scots their new change strip of white and lots of royal blue suggesting the St Andrew's cross. Again dye from the onfield advert added its own discoloration.
Carter kicked off and the All Blacks ran. Inside two minutes Ross Rennie was penalised at a tackle and Carter made it 3-0.
The All Blacks were on top and then, mirabile narratu, Carter made two errors. He missed an easy penalty and then he gave the Scots a try that delighted them. New Zealand were weaving magic but the Scots were up shallow just inside their own half. Carter passed to his right but straight to Matt Scott who ran downfield as two All Blacks homed in on him. But on his left was Tim Visser and the centre gave to the flying Dutchman who scored, and Scotland led 7-3 after 14 minutes.
After that Carter made up for his errors manyfold.
From a line-out he broke, beating three Scots, and he set up a chain of attack. When it went right he broke again, beating two, before passing a perfect pass to Israel Dagg who scored far out. Carter converted. 10-7 to New Zealand after 19 minutes.,
At this time Rennie went off with a sore shoulder and later Dagg hurt himself in jumping for a high ball. Both were replaced.
Andrew Hore was penalised at a tackle and Laidlaw goaled. 10-10 after 23 minutes.
Scott was penalised at a tackle. 13-10 after 28 minutes. Beauden Barrett started a counterattack , Victor Vito ran strongly and Carter set Piri Weepu running on the left. The All Blacks went wide right where Julian Savea flicked aside Visser's tackle to score far out. 20-10 after 31 minutes.
From a free kick at a scrum, the All Blacks tapped and set up a bout of splendid handling - quick and crisp - till Corey Jane on an overlap scored in the corner. 27-10 after 34 minutes.
Still it was not the end.
Vito galloped and the All Blacks again gave a demonstration of the best handling till a great pass from Weepu put Hore over. 34-10 after 38 minutes.
That was a magnificent burst of rugby.
At half-time the All Blacks were penalised and the Scots tapped and bashed. Sean Lamont was close and then Scott was over but held-up, but the referee went to a penalty. Again the Scots tapped and bashed and this time prop Geoff Cross scored. That made the half-time score 34-17.
The second half did not quite replicate the splendours of the first half, perhaps because we had seen it all before.
Adam Thomson was sent to the sin bin for stamping on Alasdair Strokosch and the Scots attacked over and over. They mauled a line-out and Visser was close. They bashed and the All Blacks were penalised. They made a five-metre line-out and Richie McCaw was penalised for playing the man without the ball. They had another five-metre line-out but lost the ball. Still the brave Scots came back and when Tamati Ellison did not control the ball in a tackle it shot out to Mike Blair who sent Visser over for his second try. 34-22.
After Carter goaled a penalty and Thomson came back, the Scots attacked with great vigour. They were close time and again but the All Blacks' defence held firm.
Two All Blacks now made their debuts - scrum half Tawera Kerr-Barlow and hooker Dane Coles, both with socks down though it had nothing to do with Remembrance Day. Scrumhalf Henry Pyrgos also made his debut for Scotland.
The All Blacks' fifth try was exquisite. From a scrum near the All Blacks' 10-metre line on the right when the Scots threw in skew to a line-out, Carter kicked a diagonal. Out on the far left, unmarked, Savea raced in, grabbed the beautifully placed ball swerved inside Stuart Hogg. 44-22.
Then from a line-out Carter broke past two defenders and sent Ben Smith, playing fullback, over for a try. 51-22 with three minutes to play - three minutes in which the brave Scots continued to give of their best.
The All Blacks were majestic and there is a place to admire the Scots as well. After all not many teams score three tries against New Zealand.
Man of the Match: Dan Carter.
Moment of the Match: Julian Savea's second try.
Villain of the Match: If Adam Thomson really did stamp on Alasdair Strokosch's head, that was villainy indeed, which was a grievous pity because it was out of keeping with the mood of the game.
Tries: Visser 2, Cross
Cons: Laidlaw 2
For New Zealand:
Tries: Dagg, Savea 2, Jane, Hore, Smith
Cons: Carter 6
Pens: Carter 3
Yellow card: Adam Thomson (Foul play, 45 mins)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Kelly Brown (captain), 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Kyle Traynor, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Max Evans.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Ali Williams, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ma'a Nonu.
Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Simon McDowell (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)