IT was a bittersweet start to Luke Hamilton’s international rugby career as he won his first cap for Scotland in their epic 22-17 defeat to New Zealand at BT Murrayfield yesterday.

Having been named on the replacements bench, the former Pembroke RFC man got his chance earlier than expected when he replaced flanker Hamish Watson 26 minutes in, and immediately made an impression with some strong carries that have been a feature of his play with the Leicester Tigers this season.

The appearance completed a whirlwind three weeks for Hamilton, who was brought up in Lamphey, after he was called up by Scotland despite previously representing Wales in the Under 19s World Cup.

And although he did not feature against Samoa last week, his cap today means he has now pledged allegiance at senior level to the country of his grandfather.

However, nine minutes into the second half the 25-year-old’s dream debut came to an abrupt end, when he awkwardly fell backwards over an outstretched leg, injuring his right leg in the process.

After several minutes of treatment, Hamilton was taken off on a medical buggy, with his leg in a splint, and Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend saying afterwards the severity of the injury would become more apparent over the next 48 hours.

It took the shine of a scintillating test match, which saw the Scots come within a whisker of their first ever win over the All Blacks, and the closest game between the two sides since they drew 25-25 at Murrayfield in 1983.

Jonny Gray and Huw Jones crossed for the home side, while Finn Russell landed two conversions and a penalty – but the World’s No 1 test nation prevailed with tries from Codie Taylor, Damian McKenzie and Beauden Barrett, with the latter also kicking seven points.

But only after a dramatic finale which saw outstanding Scotland full back Stuart Hogg breakthrough in midfield, only to be denied by last ditch tackle by Barrett near the corner flag.