Scotland coach Andy Robinson insisted yesterday’s win over Australia has infused his side with belief.
Edinburgh stat Greig Laidlaw kicked the last-gasp penalty which secured a memorable 9-6 win over Australia in Newcastle, New South Wales – Scotland’s first over the Wallabies on their own turf in 30 years.
After Scotland’s first win of the year, which broke a sequence of seven consecutive defeats, Robinson said: “I am just delighted for the players and the management who have worked so hard.
“Also for the Scottish supporters, because it has been tough for them when the games have been so close and the team has been playing well, getting into good positions to win matches but not achieving that. I understand the disappointment, but for this group of players and management, there is a real belief and you saw the team spirit.”
Captain Ross Ford had no hesitation in handing the ball to match-winner Laidlaw and said: “He has done that all season for us, pressure games, pressure kicks – he nudges them over. I have total confidence in him. Our tackles and breakdown work was good and we held them out.
“It showed in the end that we did manage to break out of our half and into a position where we could attack.”
Australia coach Robbie Deans admitted that Scotland’s defence had been the difference, though he felt his side did not test the away side’s rearguard as well as they should have.
“We had enough possession to put the game out of reach but credit to Scotland, they got one opportunity in the second half and took it,” Deans said.
Deans was backed by scrum-half Will Genia who felt missed scoring chances in the second half cost them.
Michael Harris failed to make the distance with a pair of long-range penalties, while Berrick Barnes sliced a late drop goals wide.
“We had plenty of possession in the second half and plenty of momentum, it was just one of those games where we had to get the scoreboard ticking over and we didn’t,” he said.
Lashing wind and rain made quality rugby virtually impossible and Scotland, who had the wind behind them in the first half, took charge.
However, their attack looked no more potent against the well-organised Australian defence than it had done in the Six Nations, when they could manage only four tries in five games.
As had been the case all season, Scotland made the breaks with Ross Rennie and Sean Lamont both going through, only for supporting players to spill the passes.
Although Laidlaw missed an early penalty, he did make amends to give Scotland the lead, but by then they had used up more than half their time with the elements behind them. Laidlaw soon extended the lead with another penalty, but when full-back Stuart Hogg lost control of the ball as he tried to take a tricky low chip, it gave Australia the territory that they needed to collect their first points of the game. Centre Mike Harris, who was making his debut, put over the kick after the Scotland backs strayed offside. Scotland suffered a further blow when Lamont picked up a rib injury and was forced off, handing Edinburgh full-back Tom Brown his debut.
Ross Rennie was caught handling in the ruck and Harris kicked his second penalty to level the scores less than two minutes into the second half.
There was a period of intense Australian pressure as they had the ball consistently within five yards of Scotland’s line, but the visitors’ defence refused to yield an inch.
Harris and Berrick Barnes both missed with long-range penalties for the home side, while Barnes also missed with an easier drop goal attempt.
Eventually, after making more than 150 tackles, Scotland managed to break the siege and get the ball into the opposition half. A neat break from Laidlaw set up the attacking position, which went to a series of scrums before the referee lost patience with the Australian pack and handed Laidlaw a simple penalty chance which he gleefully converted.