The All Blacks opened their Air New Zealand European tour with a dominant 51-22 win over Scotland at Murrayfield on Monday (NZT). The win, their 27th in 29 encounters, didn't come easy as Scotland applied the early pressure and benefited through a try to wing Tim Visser, before the All Blacks eventually found their feet and the means of scoring four first-half tries for a 34-17 lead at the break.
Julian Savea capitalised on his strong carries with a pair of five-pointers - his first a crucial score that kicked the All Blacks 10 points clear after being locked at 10-all. The Scots would not concede defeat without a fight and a try to Geoff Cross on the stroke of half time provided some hope.
After the break Visser became just the second Scot to score a double against New Zealand after Adam Thompson was sin binned for rucking the head of blindside Alasdair Strokosch. However, the home side were out-matched for class as Dan Carter, in a man-of-the-match performance, slotted all but one of his nine kicks at goal including the conversion of a late try to Ben Smith as the All Blacks crossed the half-century mark at the close of play.
Though Carter's first penalty, awarded after just 47 seconds, gave the All Blacks the fast start they had talked about all week, they followed up with a number of uncharacteristic errors - four in the opening eight minutes including a stolen first-up lineout.
Scotland's rushing defence caused two of the early mistakes but the All Blacks did well to counter with short passes at the gain line.
However, the tactic was eventually decoded by the Scots and when Matt Scott swooped on Carter's next pass, a receiving Visser stormed the remaining 30 metres to score in the 12th minute.
Carter responded to his mistake with some deft touches deep inside Scotland territory. Stepping inside the fast-approaching defence, he broke through then handed on to Israel Dagg to draw level at 10-all. The star fullback was forced from play shortly after he fell awkwardly from attempting to take a midfield bomb.
Minutes after Carter slotted his second penalty of the afternoon, Victor Vito re-entered the attacking zone with a promising break down the right-hand touchline. The ball was neatly worked across to the opposite side where Savea found himself in enough space to slide over for a converted try in the 32nd minute.
Scotland made things more difficult for themselves when they were deemed to be in front at the ensuing kick-off. With the subsequent field position, the All Blacks again caught the defence short, this time with a series of six passes that allowed Cory Jane to extend the lead to 27-10 with his try.
With the wind well and truly in their sails, New Zealand wasted no time in exploiting the deflated Scots, and the gaping holes in their defence, with a break down the blindside where Andrew Hore eventually muscled his way over the chalk for his eighth Test try.
The fiery Scots refused to go down easily and after they had an apparent try denied, there was no doubt when prop Cross crossed after a succession of pick-and-go's.
After the break, New Zealand suffered the loss of Thompson to the sin bin. The blow was doubled when Visser dotted down again after the All Blacks lost possession when running out of their own 22.
The turn of the third quarter marked the debuts of halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow and hooker Dane Coles. Within seconds the pair were involved in their first Test try celebrations when Savea latched onto Carter's cross-field kick then beat two defenders to score.
Ben Smith collected his second Test try in the final moments of play before Carter got New Zealand across the half-century mark with his sixth conversion.