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Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 19:10 GMT
Maori edge out unlucky Scots
Scotland 16-17 NZ Maori
Firhill has not seen a full house since Partick Thistle were relegated from the Scottish Premier Division and there was never any threat of a sell-out as the Rugby League World Cup arrived in Glasgow.
But the sparse crowd of mainly schoolchildren made plenty of noise in appreciation of the players' efforts to entertain.
A high-octane match saw Scotland dominate the first half but fail to get sufficient points on the board to reflect that.
The Maori came out strongly in the second half and despite a late fightback by the Scots, the visitors just edged out their hosts.
The Maori's pre-match haka may have instilled fear into the hearts of lesser men, but Scotland took the game to the visitors from the off.
Having won possession fairly cheaply, the Scots got to within ten yards of the Maori line on the fifth tackle.
A clever kick by Andrew Purcell ought to have produced the first try inside three minutes, but Matt Daylight just failed to capitalise in the corner.
Scotland were lucky to survive when the Maori almost went over after the Scots were penalised for holding on too long.
The referee called for a decision from the video referee to ascertain whether the ball had been put down, but to the relief of the crowd, no try was given.
But Scotland failed to learn their lesson and the subsequent play resulted in Clinton Toopi powering over in the corner.
The resultant conversion was missed and Scotland immediately went about redressing the balance.
In 16 minutes, they did just that - great play by Richard Hall took him through three tackles and he played in Lee Penny.
Penny feigned to pass and with the defence wrong-footed, he slipped over to level the scores - Graham Mackay obliged with the conversion.
Scotland might have had a second try in 28 minutes when a kick into the corner was poorly dealt with by Toopi, almost allowing the Scots in again, a last-ditch kicked clearance the Maori saviour.
With no quarter being asked or taken by either side, a certain amount of ill-feeling which had been brewing for a while finally reached boiling point just before half-time.
Maori captain Tawera Nikau and Scotland replacement Wayne McDonald squared up and exchanged blows as players from both sides waded in.
Referee Stuart Cummings sent both players to the sin-bin as the half-time hooter blew, but the Scots would have been happier with their contribution having dominated possession.
The Maori started the second half looking as though they meant business, but Scotland's defence looked solid.
The seemingly inevitable happened in 50 minutes though - a terrific three-man move giving the Maori the space to go over between the posts.
Good inter-passing between Gene Ngamu, Sean Hoppe and David Kidwell to stretch the Scots defence allowed the latter to make the score.
Ngamu made the conversion and the Maori increased their lead further just minutes later with a similar swift passing move.
Martin Moana took a pass and brought in the onrushing Toopi who crossed the line for his second try of the game - Ngamu successfully converted the kick again.
Having been under the cosh for much of the second period, the Scots clawed their way back into the game with 13 minutes remaining.
The ever-willing Adrian Vowles found Wayne McDonald and when he was only half-tackled, David Maiden took over.
With no challenge coming in, Maiden crossed the line to leave Matt Crowther a simple kick.
And only minutes later, Scotland found themselves level - another superb pass by Vowles released Geoff Bell on the left wing and he powered over to make it 16-16.
Crowther, though, hit the post with the conversion to set up a pulsating finish.
Ngamu then put the Maori back in front with a drop goal with five minutes remaining.
As hard as Scotland tried, they could not get near the Maori line to turn the game and the visitors celebrated their victory in the famous Glasgow drizzle.
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