STEVE HANSEN, the New Zealand coach, was full of praise for Scotland and Stuart Hogg in particular after his all-conquering world champions came within a few yards of being at the wrong end of huge upset at Murrayfield.

Only a brilliant last-gasp tackle by the All Blacks stand-off Beauden Barrett prevented Hogg from scoring what might arguably have been the country’s greatest every try, which would have equalled the Test Match at 22-22, and the resultant conversation would have been the last game’s final moment.

Hansen, who is not everyone’s cup of tea, spoke well and with humility about Gregor Townsend’s players who put in a world class performance against the best team around.

He said: “Am I relieved? No, I’m pretty satisfied. It was a great game of football. Scotland really stood up to be counted, and we in turn did well. A test match is a test match; it’s a test of resilience and mentality, and both teams contributed to a really great game.

“I’m happy to have come out on top. There are a few things we need to do better, but we got what we expected. Scotland have slowly improved over the last 18 months. It was an impressive performance from them.”

And as for Hogg, he would have looked comfortable in a black strip yesterday. That’s how fantastic a player the 25-year-old has become.

Hansen was asked what he was thinking when Hogg slalomed his way through his team’s tired defence with seconds to go– “someone go and tackle him” – was his reply and Barrett duly did. He saved what for a split-second seemed like a definite try and secured the win.

“Beauden is a class player and he’s done that before,” said his coach. “It took a special player to stop a special player because Hogg was pretty good today.

“Scotland had a bit more patience in the first-half than us. But overall, when it mattered, we had some nice touches in the second-half and it came right.”

Hansen knows that the fans back home would not accept such a close scoreline. After all, it’s only Scotland and this is the All Blacks who are expected to run out winners by 20 and more points every time.

“This is a good team,”said Hansen of the Scots. “Some will appreciate that, and some won’t. As humans we are very judgemental when we should be. People who understand the game will know Scotland played particularly well.

“They have beat Australia this year and this is the first time they have lost at home in five games.

“Scotland had a good Six Nations, so they are a team on the rise. World rugby has some exciting sides right now so it’s a good time for rugby. The sport is in a good place.”

Kieran Reid, the All Blacks captain, admitted that Murrayfield had provided him with a memory he was sure would last.

“I really enjoyed playing out there,” he said. “The fans up here get right behind their team, they respect the game and have great knowledge as well.

“Full credit has to go to Scotland. They played from the first whistle to the 80th minute.”

John Barclay, Scotland’s captain, was rightly proud of what his team had produced.

He wasn’t interested in talk of bravery, and was right to do so, when instead we wanted to highlight the skill levels shown by his team.

Barclay, superb again, believes that Scotland showed that they are so much more than a team which will hold out for a result; rather, as they did in this match, they can take the game to even the greatest.

“It was a proper test match,” he said. “Both teams played with aggression and intent. You saw two teams going at it hard, we kept going, and showed great mentality. You can’t sit off the All Blacks, we showed real guts and it is one that got away.

“It wasn’t brave. To say that it undervalues the skill we showed. To play as we did at that level with such skill, that’s not brave. Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Huw Jones are proper skilful players.

“Hoggy had one of those games when every time he touched the ball he looked as if he was going to make a break. And with his chance at the end, I did think ‘here we go’ and another day he slips the last tackle.

“He didn’t get around him but that happens. New Zealand are one of the best teams in word sport. He was emotional in the dressing room but then a few of the boys were.”

One of the most impressive aspects of Scotland’s performance was how they reacted to the set-backs because, while the home side deservedly earned lots of plaudits, New Zealand still produced some moments of sublime skill, especially Barrett’s try, which they are of course capable of even on something of an off-day.

“All we said under the posts after they scored was ‘let’s get back up there, don’t dwell on what’s happened, because we are dangerous on the ball.’ We had a great next-play mentality today,” said Barclay.

“The atmosphere was the best I have ever experienced at Murrayfield. I have never heard the crowd so loud.”