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Jim Kayes

Jim Kayes has been covering rugby since the late 1990s across print/online, radio and television with The Dominion Post, Stuff.co.nz, TV3 and Newshub, Radio Live and Radio Sport.  He's been to five World Cups, covered almost 200 All Blacks Tests and was on safari with the Lions when the British and Irish side last toured New Zealand, in 2005.

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OPINION: Williams shines in epic Scotland clash

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Jim Kayes     19 Nov 2017     Getty Images

Having never beaten the All Blacks, Scotland had history in their sights as fullback Stuart Hogg raced for the tryline for what could have been the match winning try.

QUICK TAP: SCOTLAND PUSH ALL BLACKS TO THE BRINK AT MURRAYFIELD

Beauden Barrett had other ideas. Having dropped to fullback as he so often does late in a Test, Barrett was able to bundle Hogg into touch.

As the referee blew for fulltime Hogg sagged to a crouch, his head in his hands as he contemplated what might have been, how close Scotland had come.

They were thwarted by a terrific All Blacks scrum that belies the fact four of the established tight five are home in New Zealand.

And they were undone by several magical moments from Williams who continues to evolve as a player.

He laid on a try for Ryan Crotty with a chip kick through the French defences in Paris last week and repeated the feat for Damian McKenzie at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.

He used his traditional offload to great effect to, popping a pass under pressure to McKenzie for Barrett’s try that extended the All Blacks lead to 22-10.

Scotland closed to within five points and might have snatched their first ever win against the All Blacks had Barrett not pushed Hogg over the sideline.

It is such small moments that have a big impact on a game.

Some - too many - of the All Blacks small moments were errors or missed opportunities.



Vaea Fifita again showed he can find space but not the support player and Liam Squire caught the same bug when he surged clear and chose to hold on to the ball rather than deliver the easy pass to Lima Sopoaga in support.

That, almost certainly, was a try gone begging.

Then there was Wyatt Crockett’s decision to push over a ruck and tackle halfback Ali Price, thinking he had his hands on the ball. It was a tight call but with Sam Cane already in the sinbin Crockett needed to err on the side of caution.

He didn’t and as Cane returned Crockett departed, leaving the All Blacks to finish the game with 14 men.

They survived, but only just.

Scotland deserve hefty praise for their play, taking the game to the All Blacks, using the ball superbly and tackling like men possessed.

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They dominated possession - the All Blacks making 157 tackles to Scotland’s 65 - and will rue missed chances that might have seen them win.

But games are won by those small moments and the All Blacks made the most of theirs off the back of a superb scrum that continues to see Kane Hames impress.

But it was Williams who proved the difference on attack.

The former NRL star who is a two-time World Cup winner with the All Blacks is a proven champion who is popular with his teammates and coaches.

Yet he is a polarising figure for many. Those that dislike him will never be dissuaded. They see fault in everything he does.

But it would be tough to find fault in his performance at Murrayfield. His offloads were pinpoint, his tackles sound and the chip through for McKenzie’s try pinpoint accurate.

It shows why Williams is such a good player because at 32, he is still improving.