Scotland defeated Australia 9-6 in a one-off rugby Test to snap a seven-game losing streak and send the home team to another upset loss in its season opener.
Fly-half Greig Laidlaw booted his third penalty goal with the final kick of the game at Hunter Stadium in Newcastle last night to give Scotland, the 5-1 outsider with bookmakers, its first win in Australia since 1982. Mike Harris kicked two penalties for the Wallabies in a match played in driving rain and gusts up to 80 kilometers-per-hour (50 miles-per-hour).
“The team have come of age with that performance,” Scotland coach Andy Robinson said in a televised interview. “Whilst you’re trying to build your attacking game, you’ve got to try and defend and stop the opposition from scoring in Test rugby.”
It was Scotland’s second straight victory over Australia after winning 9-8 in Edinburgh when the teams last met in 2009. The Scots’ triumph in Brisbane 30 years ago was the last time they managed back-to-back wins against the Wallabies.
The match, which comes exactly a year before the British and Irish Lions open their nine-game tour of Australia, was the first of four Tests this month for the Wallabies, who host Wales in a best-of-three contest over the next three Saturdays.
Australia, which is 10 places above No. 12 Scotland in the International Rugby Board rankings, was also ambushed in its opening Test of 2011 as Samoa secured a first victory against the Wallabies in five attempts. Australia had won 18 of its previous 26 Tests against the Scots.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said. “They had one possession in our 22 in the second half and turned it into points. We could and should have put the game beyond doubt, we didn’t and that left the door ajar.”
Scotland, which lost all five matches in this year’s Six Nations tournament, took a 6-3 halftime lead with the wind at its back as Laidlaw kicked two penalties. Inside center Harris, one of five rookies in Australia’s starting lineup, made it 6-3 in the 33rd minute and tied it three minutes after the break.
With Scotland pinned in their own half, Australia’s forwards launched a series of attacks on the Scottish try-line only to be thwarted by the visiting defense each time. Harris struck a post with a 54th-minute penalty and was short with another attempt 20 minutes later. Fly-half Berrick Barnes also skewed a drop-goal attempt wide with seven minutes to go.
With time running out, Scotland worked the ball into the Wallabies’ 22 for the first time in the second half and was awarded a penalty less than 30 meters out following a scrum collapse. Laidlaw held his composure to deliver Scotland’s first win since beating Georgia at the World Cup in September.
“The weather kind of evened things out a little but our boys stuck in there,” Scotland captain Ross Ford said. “We knew if we could keep them under 20 points we’d be in with a shout and the pressure just kept building and building. Eventually it came our way.”
Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia said his team needed to “take a hard look at ourselves.”
“It’s a very disappointing result to lose like that,” he said at a televised news conference. “It’s a learning experience and a very, very tough one at that.”
The Scots play Fiji on June 16 before finishing their three-match June tour against Samoa a week later.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com