Greig Laidlaw kicked a penalty against a fierce wind two minutes after the siren to give Scotland a stunning 9-6 victory over Australia in atrocious weather in their rugby union international yesterday in Newcastle, Australia.
A match rendered almost a farce by gale-force winds and torrential rain looked destined to end in a draw until Scotland were awarded a penalty for an infringement at the scrum about 25m from Australia’s try-line.
Flyhalf Laidlaw, whose own line-break had got Scotland into Australia’s 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 for the visitors.
It was a second successive win for Scotland over the Wallabies after their victory in Edinburgh in 2009, but their first in Australia since 1982 and it followed a run of seven consecutive defeats going back to last year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
“The boys are over the moon, we put in a big shift in defense, they put their bodies on the line,” Scotland captain Ross Ford said.
“Contrary to popular belief, we prefer playing in dry weather. Our boys just stuck in there and stuck to their task,” he said.
“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,” he added.
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 Scotland lacked the imagination to break down the hosts’ defense and they came away with only two Laidlaw penalties.
Scotland came closest to a try when fullback Stuart Hogg hoisted a huge up-and-under which Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia missed completely and he had to rely on the pace of debutant winger Joe Tomane to save the day.
Australia center Mike Harris closed the deficit to 6-3 with a penalty eight minutes before the break and, with the posts wobbling in the wind, he 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 came, although ferocious Scotland tackling played its part too, and after lock Rob Simmons was denied a try by television review in the 55th minute, the hosts rarely threatened the tourists’ line thereafter.
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 Six Nations champions Wales in Brisbane on Saturday.
“We’re very disappointed,” said David Pocock, who was captaining Australia for the first time in place of the injured James Horwill.
“Credit to Scotland, they defended very well and did well to get the penalty at the end and kick it,” he said.
Scotland move on to play Tests against Fiji and Samoa.