Australia v Scotland, Newcastle
Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw converted a penalty goal after the full-time hooter to cause a massive boilover upsetting the more fancied Wallabies 9-6 in extreme conditions at Hunter Stadium.
The historic win means Scotland retain the Hopetoun Cup – the trophy awarded the winner of Test matches between Australia and Scotland. To put it into context, it is Scotland’s first win in Australia in 30 years. In recent head-to-head meetings, Australia had a 16-match winning streak (all venues) up until 2009, when they were pipped by Scotland 9-8 at Murrayfield. Australia were desperate for revenge but a hard-fought win will taste very sweet and live long as one of Scotland’s most memorable and historic wins.
David Pocock was captaining the Wallabies for the first time in the absence of regular skipper James Horwill, who was is on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. Australia was understrength and underprepared but was still expected to win this match.
But incessant rain and ferocious winds paid its part in a low-scoring, try-less match. While the backs were shivering with not much to do, the forward packs were working feverishly to gain territory and try to earn penalties and defend like hell when they were not in possession.
Astute defence from Scotland was the main reason they got themselves into a winning position, especially in the second half when Australia came close to the try-line, including one instance where the TMO adjudged the ball to be held up and disallowed a Rob Simmons try. That was as close a try as there was all night.
The decisive moment came when Australia kicked the ball dead which handed possession to Scotland for the last few minutes. The Scots were good enough to hold onto the ball and earn a penalty and Laidlaw held his nerve to convert the winner.
A heroic win for Scotland and their coach Andy Robinson will be mighty proud.
Next up for the Wallabies is the first of a 3 Test match series on Saturday night in Brisbane against Wales who went unbeaten through the 6 nations earlier this year. The Welsh possess arguably the best scrum-half in the world, Mike Phillips, and so it promises to be a hard-fought series.
With three first-choice fly-halves injured –Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper and James O’Connor – Robbie Deans finally allowed Berrick Barnes to start at fly-half. And with five debutants drafted into the team, it meant a weakened line-up.