Australia 67-12 Scotland
Scotland never really got going against the powerful junior Wallabies, which was disappointing as at times they looked proficient with ball in hand and in the line-out. While teams like England, Australia and the home nation South Africa will go with genuine intent to win the IRB Junior World Championships, for nations like Scotland it is an uneasy truth that these trips represent a chance for youngsters to have their eyes opened as to the levels they will need to attain to compete in professional rugby.
Unsurprisingly the players who looked most comfortable against an Australian team packed with plenty of bulk and Super Rugby/Sevens experience – including their new hope Chris Sautia – were the few Scots already with pro experience: Robin Hislop, Harry Leonard and Mark Bennett.
Bennett at 13 in particular showed why he was snapped up by Clermont with some great turnover work in defence and some nice breaks through the midfield, two of which should have been tries given a little more careful passing, and one of which did set up a fine score. As the commentary said of Bennett: “he looks like he would be a handful in a side going forward.”
The Scots battled hard but Australian physicality and pace over the tackle area kept them from ever being comfortable at their own ruck, forcing them to commit numbers which made it too easy for the outside defence when Scotland got their ball carriers moving despite targeting the wide channels. The added power also made it far too easy for Australia to get their own ball carriers over the gain line, and creating too many uneven match-ups and too many soft tries early on.
The game was well over by half-time with Australia sitting on about 84% possession for the half. Every time Scotland had the ball the Australians found it too easy to recover. Numerous breakdown and scrum infringements didn’t help Scotland’s cause much.
A short-range try from the forwards just before half time and a more settled second half saw Scotland keep more ball while still testing the Australian back-line defence with some nice grubbers and chips, but even with Farndale’s excellent try perhaps raising the possibility of a four try bonus, the damage had already been done.
In truth, Scotland were never really in it when it counted; they will need to lick their wounds and recover for yet more stern tests against France and Argentina.