There were plenty of changes for New Zealand as they took to the field at the Christchurch Stadium with the aspiration of sealing their quarter final place against a Scotland side who were well beaten by Tonga last weekend.
Steve McCormack’s Bravehearts side were in danger of early elimination in a tough group where a loss today would see them needing a victory over their final opponents next weekend, Samoa.
Despite these two sides drawing 18-18 the last time they met in the Four Nations last year, the Kiwis were massive favourites for a big win after their confident victory against Samoa over the opening weekend.
There was little to choose between the two sides until the ninth minute when Kenny Bromwich found a gap in the Scotland defence to score from five metres a couple of tries after getting a penalty for a Scottish obstruction. Shaun Johnson added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Jason Nightingale scored the Kiwis second try on eleven minutes after finding space on the overlap to score in the left corner. Johnson was unable to add the touchline conversion. The floodgates were opening and two minutes later Joseph Tapine saw a gap open up in front of him and it was all too easy to run twenty metres to score. Johnson failed to add a simple looking conversion.
A brave opening few minutes for Scotland was all too brief as they started to fall off tackles.
On twenty-two Nightingale grabbed his second, and New Zealand’s fourth, when he stooped to take a Roger Tuivasa-Sheck pass and ground in the corner. Johnson was again unable to add the extras but his side were already pulling away from the Bravehearts.
Scotland had no answer to the onslaught. On the half hour Te Maire Martin went twenty metres to score after Nelson Asofa-Solomona had broken the line and fed the half-back. Johnson added the two for 24-0.
Just before the interval Peta Hiku got his reward for a half of hard work when he took a Brad Takariangi pass to dive over in the right corner. Johnson was unable to kick the two but New Zealand had a 28-0 interval lead.
More missed Scotland tackles allowed New Zealand over the line on forty-two when Russell Packer broke Alex Walkers tackle and crossed on his knees. Johnson added the goal from under the sticks and the scoreboard was off and moving.
Superb Kiwi handling and a great dummy from Martin allowed him to dart through a gap in the defence to score under the sticks on fifty-two minutes. Johnson added the conversion to bring up the forty. Within two minutes Dean Whare took a Martin pass to step past the last defender and go under the sticks giving Johnson his simplest goal of the afternoon.
The procession continued on fifty-eight after Danny Brough had failed to find touch with a penalty. Two tackles later and Peta Hiku was on hand to take a Tuivasa-Sheck pass to go over wide. Johnson converted from the touchline for 52-0.
Inside two minutes Shaun Johnson took another Tuivasa-Sheck inside pass to go thirty metres to score and claim the record as New Zealand’s all time top points scorer. He added the extras himself and New Zealand were getting closer to a point a minute.
On sixty-nine the Scottish defence failed to deal with a grubber into their goal area and Hiku pounced to get his right hand on the ball to complete his hat-trick. Johnson added the extras for 64-0 and Scotland were praying for the final hooter.
There was finally some reward for Scotland when Oscar Thomas found a gap in the Kiwi defence and managed to get to the line and ground for Scotland’s first try of the night. Brough added the two and the nilling was avoided.
Martin completed his hat-trick on seventy-six minutes dipping the shoulder to dart through the line. Johnson was unable to add the goal. Again within two minutes of the restart Elijah Taylor found plenty of space to run through an exhausted Scottish line to score. Johnson added the two to complete the afternoon’s scoring and five New Zealand a 74-6 win.
It was men against boys as New Zealand ran riot over a Scotland side that simply had no answer to the onslaught. Scotland were as poor as the Kiwis were exceptional with missed tackles and simple errors on the few occasions that they had control of the football. It was exhibition stuff which secured New Zealand’s spot in the quarter finals.
New Zealand: Tuivasa-Sheck, Nightingale (2T), Whare (T), Takariangi, Hiku (3T), Martin (3T), Johnson (T, 9G), Taupau, Taylor (T), Warea-Hargreaves, Bromwich (T), Tapine (T), Blair. Subs: Asofa-Solomona, Packer (T), Fonua-Blake, Levi.
Scotland: A Walker, Tierney, Hellewell, Stein, Russell, Brough (G), Thomas (T), Douglas, Addy, Kavanagh, Anderson, Ferguson, Bell. Subs: J Walker, Wilkinson, Brooks, K Bentley.
Referee: Henry Perenara.