Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


From The Vaults: Australia 6 Scotland 9

Richie Gray - pic © Al Ross
Richie Gray - pic © Al Ross

In advance of Sunday’s game we thought we’d pull our our match report from Scotland’s last victory over Australia in 2012. Enjoy!

Scotland took to the field in an atrocious storm of wind and rain amid talk of conditions in their favour which usually rubs up coach Andy Robinson the wrong way, but for once Andy Robinson seemed content to say actually, yes, we might be able to handle this and, no, the Aussies probably won’t like it very much.

With such heavy rain falling, possession was a responsibility rather than a right and there were knock-ons thick and fast from both sides in the opening quarter. With the wind behind Scotland in the first half this meant that most of the action was taking place in the Australian 22. Scotland used some clever kicks for position, but mostly just battered it up through Strokosch, Rennie and Gray to keep Australia pinned. Genia’s clearance kicks didn’t go far and Scotland were able to attack again.

Early breaks through the line from Rennie and debutant Ryan Grant came close; Lamont cut a nice angle from a free kick. They never really troubled the try line as Australia’s close in defence was solid, but they were playing in the right areas.

The Wallabies were perhaps hoping for Scotland to punch themselves out with endless attacking as most of them foundered with a spilled ball of some description. But Australia too spilled the ball often.

Neither side could do much with the ball. Nor perhaps did they want to. It was an old fashioned drudge fest.

Just at the back of your mind though was a thought; Australia will get a chance to do this to Scotland in the second half. And they’ll probably find a way over the line.

The scoring was opened in the 23rd minute as Greig Laidlaw slotted a penalty, having missed an earlier one with a great deal of interference from the wind.

In the loose though the wind was being very helpful to Scots, but you worried for them in the second half when it would be in their faces. Despite the conditions, Scots were still willing to try things with Hogg calling for quick line-outs that let to another breakdown penalty for the Scots. He also tried an up and under that he and Ansbro chased into the Australian goal area although the Wallaby winger managed to get back and cover.

Laidlaw too seemed to have eventually worked out the wind and nailed his third penalty attempt from same position he missed the first from.

After going 0-6 down Robbie Deans’ men ramped up the pace a little and put some phases together, getting down into the Scotland half and managing this time to stay there. A spill close to the Scotland line was almost inevitable, but with it being so easy to slip from your feet, so was the award of a penalty of some sort.

Driving wind and rain required an unfortunate ball holder to lie on the ground and get soaked, but the kick by Harris was low and effective.

The Wallabies had finally worked out the conditions.

Pushing close to half time they put the maul, and pick and go into play to good effect. A Scotland score looked less likely, and attention turned to the second half where Scotland would have to defend an increasingly confident Wallaby team and a strong wet gale in their faces. Would a 3 point lead be enough?

Harris took his second chance early on when Rennie was penalised for not releasing. The Scotland back row had a good first hour, with plenty of ball and plenty of pressure all over the Aussie halfbacks. But their work was not yet complete.

It was 44 mins before Australia really put an attacking move together (by the stats, the first line break of the match though I am sure Lamont and Rennie would disagree), but Scotland were able to snaffle it out. Barclay may have been picked at 8 but was playing like a 7, allowing mobile units each with a ball snaffler to contest any breakdown. Australia’s David Pocock was also on excellent form and showing often that you do not go into contact against him unsupported.

Digby Ioane, stuck out on the wing, started looking for work (if only to stay warm) with couple of nice breaks and a cross-field kick from Barnes that luckily Tom Brown – on for Lamont who had sustained a rib injury – was there to defend, and tackled him straight away.

Then Australia decided they really wanted a score. 6-6 was all very well, but surely a try would keep the crowd happy. The first half was spent in the Australia 22. This one would be spent in exactly the same part of the Hunter stadium pitch.

At 56 minutes Simmons fresh off the bench barrelled over but there were plenty of Scots underneath it so the TMO couldn’t give it despite some Oscar-worthy celebrations from the Wallabies. The men in gold kept up the pressure though, opting to keep plugging away whether it was a scrum or a lineout. Whereas in the first half the ball popping loose had ended most moves, the ref was having an increasing influence as Australia held on to possession that much tighter.

You sensed in dry conditions Scotland might hold their feet with Australia battering their line but it was very slippery out there.

Scotland held back the tide once, twice. Booted the ball clear but not very far, and Australia came again.

Surely it would only be a matter of time before Aus battered across the line. The same attack move from Higginbotham at Number 8 two scrums in a row only helped Scotland’s chances, with Strokosch and Rennie smothering anything, a pair of interchangeable navy blankets wrapped around Australia’s ball carriers.

The Wallaby backline just had to shiver and watch. When they did finally get some ball, Scotland having pushed the Australian attacking line back, they were penalised for crossing. Scotland desperately needed ball, but Laidlaw couldn’t get the resulting penalty into touch and Australia were given a chance to resume the onslaught with a line-out of their own.

Cusiter came on for Blair into a game that seemed tailor made for his skill set and promptly won a penalty, deciding that anything Barclay can do…

Scotland were able to edge just a little bit further from danger, and give themselves just a little more breathing room.

With a lot of moves ending in pile-ups there were a lot of scrums. Australia had not being challenged at scrum time; they often seemed to be collapsing and sealing it off. The ref – like Ryan Grant also on his test debut – seemed content to let it go just to get play moving. But it was being brought to his attention by Ford, Cusiter and Kellock.

Australia kept battering but Harris missed a couple of very long range penalties, and Barnes missed an ill-advised drop-goal. They couldn’t break the deadlock. As the clock ticked on, somewhere, Matt Giteau was sweating and staring into space, head in his hands.

And then the wind was to have its final say in matters.

A clearance kick by the Australian back three went dead. Scotland would have a scrum on 76mins. It was their first chance and most likely their last in the Australian half. They kept the ball, the platform was solid, and suddenly players who had been quiet, Laidlaw, Scott, De Luca, started getting ball and making ground, edging further forward.

Another pile-up, and the referee’s arm went out.

Just a scrum.

Grant and Murray seemed to have the edge in scrum, although to be fair there was little movement in either direction. Referee Peyper seemed hesitant to turn the match with his whistle but after one scrum went down and the Scotland pack complained vociferously, Euan Murray stepped up for a second. He’d had a quiet game, as he often has of late, but he finally showed what he was there for. The hooter had gone, the draw was there for the taking but Scotland pushed so hard that the referee had no choice.

This time it was a penalty.

Greig Laidlaw, cool as the soggiest cucumber, slotted it over.

Yes, this result was heavily influenced by the weather.

No, we do not care.

SRBLog Man of the Match: Al Strokosch

15 Responses

  1. I remember that game Joe Ansbro really took the mick out of the Oz players and ran riot. How we could do with him now. Unfortunately the game took place at a time when OZ were rubbish. They have been poor for most of the last 10 years but have now hit a purple patch.

    1. Weather conditions are forecast to be settled…no rain not much wind for Sunday.

      I wonder if they will be singing “Swing low…”.

      Whatever happened to Joe Ansbro?

      1. He suffered a fractured vertebrate in the neck. He was ok, but that was the end of his rugby career. Whilst he was a good player and we certainly missed him (not to mention Thom Evans) our midfield is an area of strength for the first time in a long time, so not sure he would make an important difference now.

      2. Tom Evans – probably the best back I’ve seen for Scotland – lightning on the pitch – was so gutted watching that Wales game…we lost a truck load of good players for a long time and him for good. Never mind my own feelings, I cant imagine just how indescribably tough it was for him personally!

      3. He certainly was class. As a fan, I don’t think I’ve quite got over that and I’ve found it hard to support Wales since. In fact they are the team I most want Scotland to beat in the 6N. I didn’t realise that the 3 point margin in this year’s 6N was the closest we’ve been since 2007! 2017 then – must win! Although a turnover in Cardiff 2016 would go a looong way to putting some ghosts to rest.

      4. I am with you on that , anything about Wales puts a horrible taste in my mouth there days. Bad losers and bad winners. Always on the border line , frequently over the line and I am not talking whitewash. It is the whole attitude, they have to win at any cost. I hate getting to the match to discover we have a loud one close by. Tom Evans was very positive about the medical attention he received which says a lot about him, off the pitch he is as classy as he was on it. That is about the only positive in the whole incident. Maybe I am old fashioned , but I think there is a dignity in winning and dignity in losing.

      5. Yeah that loss in Cardiff is the worst I have ever felt after any sporting event, I was unbearable to live with for ages! Compound that with the Welsh arrogance and inability to win or lose well, and they are right up there on my “hate list”.

        It used to be England, but now every time Wales play, and it doesn’t matter who the opposition is, I want them to lose and lose badly.

  2. My boss is an Aussie. Like over on their blogs, he said this game was just a road bump.

    I pointed out the spine of the Scotland team was potentially: Hardie, Strauss / Denton, Russell, Hogg.

    He still said road bump.

    I pointed out Laidlaw (though personally not a fan) would keep the board ticking over.

    He still said road bump.

    I pointed out that the team would be fired up from the injustice of the bans and that the enforced switches probably result in a stronger team: two world class props being paired with a hooker who could actually hook and a 6,5 second rower alongside the 12 foot older brother of the banned player.

    He still said road bump.

    I pointed out Seymour and Maitland were finishers, that Bennett was a dynamic game changer but could probably do with stability and better ball inside and that Horne (Glasgow player of the season, Pro 12 winners) was his regular team mate, not to mention Russell.

    He still said road bump.

    I pointed Falaeu (who has never before missed a test in 26 or so international) was surprisingly injured and that Pocock was out too. And that Australia had not suddenly become the world’s best team in three games against a rudderless England and decimated Wales. And that I’d rather be facing Oz than SA or NZ given the respective strengths.

    He still said road bump.

    I also said that despite the chatter Twickenham was more a home venue for us, there would be more Scottish fans and that the weather would be Britain in autumn.

    He still said road bump.

    I said there was more pressure on the Aussie Team, being hyped by a world media, but the players in both the current sides would have experienced Scotland wins.

    He still said road bump.

    1. Lol…did you tell him that the Wallabies have one hell of a bumpy road ahead of them? :)

  3. Ford and Gray cleared to play!

    I’m delighted, but this is just weird now. Will the 23 be thrilled or will it just be an unhelpful adjustment psychologically having used the last days’ events as motivation? Will Ford and Gray be ‘parachuted’ into the 23 or can’t they do that after the 23 has already been announced? If they can be included, how difficult will it be for the boys left out?

    As I say, delighted, but almost feel more frustrated at the bizarre inconsistencies. Quinlan QC’s thoughts would be interesting right now.

    1. Frankly I don’t give a monkeys for Quinlan’s thoughts, right now or at any other time. Between himself and the Australian citing commissioner they have disrupted our preparations for a huge match to a monumental degree which thankfully has been corrected, albeit at the 11th hour.

      1. Tony, I meant it to be an understated way of saying I hope he and the system he represents feel embarrassed for exactly the reasons you state.

  4. I was at this game and got absolutely drookit but couldn’t have cared less. I made about $800 on Scotland and when I showed the players the betting slips after the game they couldn’t believe I had bet on them lol

    Celebrated with Champagne in the team hotel with Andy Irvine and Mighty Mouse before sticking it to every Aussie I know lol Great times ahhh :)

    Think the odds are even longer for tomorrow though :(

    1. I didn’t win that much in Sterling back in the UK, Angus, but I did pile a few quid on at about 6/1 which was a ridiculous price. I’m going nowhere near a punt on the boys today for fear of putting the malky on them.
      My other vivid memory of that game was Ansbro and Stroker accidentally administering Glasgow kisses to each other as they leapt onto a heap of victorious team-mates from opposite directions. It opened up a huge cut on Stroker’s baldy heid. He should be touching that scar for luck today!

      1. Going to have a look at how many points start they are giving then decide

        Yes that was a cracker that cut

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion