O Flower of Scotland,
When will we see,
Your like again,
Australia 6 Scotland 9: GREIG LAIDLAW converted a penalty against a fierce wind with the last kick of the game to hand Scotland a stunning 9-6 victory over Australia in atrocious weather in Newcastle yesterday and end his countrys seven-match losing streak.
A match rendered almost farcical by gale-force winds and torrential rain looked destined to end in a draw until Scotland were awarded a penalty some 25 metres from the line for an scrum infringement two minutes after the siren.
Outhalf Laidlaw, whose own line-break had got the Scots into the Australian half, steadied his nerves, waited for the wind to die down a little before kicking the ball hard and high between the posts to secure a famous victory.
It was a second successive win for the Scots over the Wallabies after their victory in Edinburgh in 2009 but their first in Australia since 1982 and followed a run of defeats going back to last year’s World Cup.
“The boys are over the moon, we put in a big shift in defence they put their bodies on the line,” said Scotland captain Ross Ford. “Contrary to popular belief we prefer playing in dry weather. Our boys just stuck in there and stuck to their task.
“We put ourselves under a lot of pressure but when we finally got the ball we made the most of it. I think it’s phenomenal, a great morale boost for the squad especially against a side like Australia.”
Australia elected to play against the wind in the first half and were delighted to be just 6-3 down at the break after it looked like Scotland had squandered their significant advantage. The first half was largely a siege of the Wallabies line but the Scots lacked imagination and came away with only two Laidlaw penalties.
Scotland came closest to a try when fullback Stuart Hogg hoisted a huge up-and-under which Will Genia missed completely and he had to rely on the pace of debutant Joe Tomane to save the day. Mike Harris closed the deficit to 6-3 with a penalty eight minutes before the break and, with the posts wobbling in the wind, added another two minutes after halftime to square the match.
The 20,000 crowd then waited in vain for the Wallabies onslaught to begin. The weather was largely to blame for the fact that it never materialised, although ferocious Scots tackling and a lack of imagination on the part of the Australians played parts too.
Despite a huge advantage in territory and possession, the makeshift side were unable to breach the Scottish line after lock Rob Simmons ploughed over under a pile of bodies after 55 minutes but was denied a try by the TMO.
Harris miscued a drop goal attempt and both he and Berrick Barnes missed penalties from long range as the wind swirled around the Hunter Stadium.
Australia, who blooded six new caps, also lost their opening Test last season, at home to Samoa, and are certain to field a very different side when they begin their three-Test series against Wales in Brisbane on Saturday.
“We weren’t on the same page in terms of banking games like that, it’s not in our DNA but it’s an art that we’ve got to develop,” said coach Robbie Deans. “We had enough possession to put the game beyond reach but credit to Scotland, they had one opportunity in the second half and they took it.”
AUSTRALIA: Morahan; Tomane, A Faingaa, Harris, Ioane; Barnes, Genia; Slipper, Moore, Palmer; Timani, Sharpe; Dennis, Pocock, Higginbotham. Replacements: Simmons for Timani (55 mins), Hooper for Dennis (65 mins) Alexander for Palmer (70 mins).
SCOTLAND: Hogg; Ansbro, De Luca, Scott, Lamont; Laidlaw, Blair; Grant, Ford, Murray; Kellock, Gray; Strokosch, Rennie, Barclay. Replacements: Brown for Lamont (39 mins), Cusiter for Blair (64 mins).
Referee: J Peyper (South Africa).