SCOTLAND have been praised for proving the All Blacks are only ‘human’ after coming to within a whisker of a historic first-ever win against the world champions at the weekend.
Only a magnificent try-saving tackle from Beauden Barrett on Stuart Hogg in the last play of the game denied Gregor Townsend’s side a remarkable scalp at BT Murrayfield.
And the Scots’ fantastic display in the 22-17 defeat has won plaudits from old enemy Jeremy Guscott, the former England centre who has delighted in the past in putting the boot into rugby north of the border.
He said: “To even be close to New Zealand, you’ve got to be at your very best and on Saturday, Scotland were.
“They made New Zealand look human on a number of occasions.
“But the difference between victory and defeat was that this New Zealand side has so much inner belief.
“Without any arrogance, they go out expecting to beat anybody and Scotland are rarely in that position. They’re rarely favourites to win a game.
“As a player you will believe you have the ability to win, but as a group it’s much harder.
“Scotland didn’t lose this game because of a lack of effort – if they lacked anything it was [the] level of belief the All Blacks have.
“But sometimes you just have to say it wasn’t our day.”
Guscott is a big admirer of Townsend, a former British and Irish Lions team-mate, and hopes Scotland’s performance does not prove another false dawn as they prepare to take on Australia this weekend.
Guscott added in his column on the BBC website: “Gregor Townsend has shown he has the ability to get the very best out of a side, after guiding Glasgow Warriors to the Pro12 title in 2015.
“He did that through installing a solid belief in those players. You have to keep believing in your players and, if you do, you will start getting results.
“The difficulty for Scotland is that we have heard before that they are going in the right direction, only for them not to live up to the expectations.
“That’s the position Townsend’s side are in now, so what they have to do is go out and beat Australia this weekend.
“It’s possible, but the difficult part will be getting back up to the level of intensity they reached against New Zealand.”