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Scotland’s brave effort to earn a first ever victory over New Zealand fell agonisingly short in a 31-23 defeat at Murrayfield.
After 31 attempts, Scotland could sense a historic win over the All Blacks, but late tries from Scott Barrett and Mark Telea dashed hopes and ended a spirited performance from Gregor Townsend’s men.
The All Blacks came out fast, with tries from Samisoni Taukeiaho and Mark Telea, on debut, carving out a 14-0 lead after just eight minutes.
But a penalty try and yellow card for Anton Lienert-Brown inspired the hosts, with Darcy Graham running in to quickly level matters after 15 minutes.
The boot of Russell saw Scotland’s built a two-score lead, pushing their tally to 23 points – the most points scored against New Zealand since 1996.
But New Zealand rallied with Jordie Barrett hammering home a penalty before the visitors ruthlessly capitalised after Jack Dempsey earned a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on.
Scotland desperately fended off the All Blacks from close range, but Scott Barrett bundled home and the conversion earned a slender lead for the first time in more than 50 minutes.
And in the final seconds before Scotland return to full strength, Telea scored his second score with three minutes remaining and Jordie Barrett dissected the posts superbly to open up an eight-point lead and confirm 17 unanswered points and finally break the hosts’ resistance.
Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie was buoyed by the performance despite ultimate disappointed.
“It’s tough to be on the wrong side of the result,” he said. “We were there or there abouts, I’m so proud of the boys, we spoke about being courageous.
“We did that for Doddie, sorry we couldn’t get the result, it means everything. It’s hard to put into words. I don’t think anybody defines bravery more than Doddie. It’s a bit raw to talk about, but that was some of the best rugby we’ve played.”