This was my RWC 15 Daily Update for yesterday’s game on my Facebook page before the game;
“An Englishman goes into a bar and takes a seat next to a Welshman and an Irishman. They tell him, the Scotsman will be along in a few minutes!”
I’m not so sure that this IS a totally foregone conclusion……
Well we are DUE an upset and despite being (IMHO) the strongest side, Australia will find a strong and spirited Scotland side today. The stats are pretty even and we will see Vern Cotter's men going all out. #SCOTSWHAEHAE #AsOne
Whilst Scotland started this game with intent and clearly coach Vern Cotter had them prepared to take the game to The Wallabies, the opening minutes saw them concede an immediate soft penalty and an additional 10 yards which culminated in Australia coming within a metre of the try line but a wasted offload pass from Fly Half Foley let Scotland off the hook.
It took only 9 minutes and a missed tackle from Scotland to allow Adam Ashley-Cooper in for the Wallabies first try. Foley missed a number of kicks in this game and this was the first.
Scotland to their credit immediately pressed from the kick off but lacked the composure to get over the try line but an eventual penalty gave them a 3 point return. They continued in the same vein and on 18 minutes, Peter Horne spotted a gap from the base of a scrum and went under for Scotlands first try. A Laidlaw conversion and another penalty from him 2 mins later saw Scotland take a 13 - 5 lead.
For all the power in the Scottish scrum, winning turnovers and their taking the game to Australia, they suffered from many inconsistencies, none more so than on restarts. They made an abysmal job of clearing the ball away from most restarts and this allowed Australia to pile on pressure. On the half hour, Drew Mitchell scored Australia’s 200th Rugby World Cup try and right on half time Australia were awarded an easy kickable penalty but chose to go for the line. The subsequent rolling maul added their 3rd try. A huge but correct call it transpired! Both of the conversions were missed by Foley and a Laidlaw penalty in between each try saw Scotland leading 16 - 15 at the break. Interestingly a couple of minutes previously, Scotland had been pressing towards the Wallabies try line however once again their own inconsistencies saw a succession of soft penalties and the end result was down the Scotland end and an eventual 7 points to Australia?
Australia commenced the second half as they ended the first. In the first minute Scotland’s Sean Maitland received a yellow card for a deliberate “Slap Down” however it was VERY harsh and nothing more than a knock on and should only have seen a scrum. They took advantage of the additional man and scored their 4th try. This time it was converted by Foley.
Throughout the sin bin period, Australia pressed, had a disallowed try following a Will Genia knock on. Penalties on 47 from Laidlaw and in reply on 54 from Foley kept the game at a 6 point gap. Scotland scored the second try of the game however after a superb charge down by Finn Russell who offloaded to Winger Tommy Seymour to race home. Unfortunately Laidlaw missed the conversion but Scotland were now within a point of the 2 times World Champions. Game on!
Tevita Kuridrani who lead the stats with most carries across the gain line scored Australia’s 5th try in the 63rd minute and the successful conversion by Foley (He was getting better at this stage!!) saw an extended lead of Aus 32 v Sco 24. Laidlaw as ever with his trust boot scored another penalty on 69 minutes to reduce the deficit to Aus 34 v Sco 27.
In rugby the Backs (or Mary’s as we used to call them) can and indeed are allowed to make mistakes. As a forward you’re not! As a retired Prop, I know that if a Back player makes a mistake and for example let’s say you give away an intercepted pass, it’ll be “Unfortunate”, it’ll be “Better luck next time”, it’ll be “Could have happened to anyone”........... HOWEVER, No matter how unlucky you are, if you’re a Prop and you give away an intercepted pass, it’ll cost you HEAVILY in fines and it’ll be remembered FOREVER!! On 74 mins, Australia’s replacement Prop James Slipper threw such a pass which was intercepted by Scotland’s Mark Bennett and a conversion from Laidlaw saw Scotland lead 34 - 32………… with only 6 minutes remaining. Could they make the unbelievable happen ?????? (Oh and after his pass Prop Slipper falls to the floor punching the ground. He KNOWS it could have cost his team a semi final place!)
It wasn’t however to be for the gallant and spirited Scots. On 79 minutes and from a Scotland line out in their own half the ball fell loose. Referee Craig Joubert adjudged yet again against Scotland (a number of issues being widely discussed!) for offside and despite the rain soaked conditions, Australian Fly Half, Bernard Foley stepped up to put the penalty over the bar and Australia held on to take the game Aus 35 v Sco 34.
As the title suggests clearly it was a game that Scotland LOST rather than WON by The Wallabies. It is fair to say that Australia had one eye on the Semi Final and didn’t expect Scotland to put up the scrap they did. Coach Michael Cheika will realise just how lucky they were. Despite their own inconsistencies in play, to me Australia have a lot more to give and of all the Southern Hemisphere teams they adapt the mix of “Styles” from both Southern (width to width, sublime handling & offloading, running, speed & strength) & Northern (Rucking, mauling, slow methodical into contact, Kicking etc etc) the best out of the Southern Hemisphere sides. That’s definitely a Michael Cheika influence. He has brought them a long way in only 12 months but at times that shows and they look like world class individuals who are becoming a team compared to the All Blacks or Argentinians who are very much “Teams” already. Scotland will however take away a fine performance. Their powerful scrum, their turnovers and their attacking play were very positive but they’ll rue their inconsistencies (especially restarts) and for not keeping a lineout throw as simple as possible that ultimately cost them a place in the 2015 RWC Semi Finals. The 6 Nations though, WILL be a far more interesting affair next year if this outing from our Celtic brothers is anything to go by.
NOTE : Since this writeup posted, World Rugby released this statement on the controversial Joubert decision
@bigjoeshep is the Owner and Head of Information & Knowledge Management at Digital Knowledge Zone. An avid Leinster & Ireland Rugby fan, he came to rugby at the late age of 24, was a tight head prop, had at least 2 good runs in every game and retired at only 36 after 3 operations on his legs and now forms the 4th "virtual" person in a front row each time his beloved teams are playing (much to the annoyance of his suffering girlfriend who has to put up with being "embraced" by the Big Fella at each scrum!!!)
Want to see your own rugby opinions on the web?
Click "Write for us" in the sidebar to find out how.