Rugby World Cup 1999
Scotland uninspired in downing Uruguay
October 8, 1999
Glenn Metcalfe strives for the line under pressure from the game Uruguay defence
© Getty Images
Uruguay have won the soccer World Cup in the past but there is little danger of them doing the double. They are known as "Los Teros", after the national bird they sport on their left breast, but although they never really got off the ground today in attack they showed an appetite for defence which was positively gluttonous. Despite eventually being well beaten, the South American amateurs emerged with considerably more credit than the Scots from this frustrating game.
The Scots were attempting to put behind them the disappointment of last Sunday, when they threw away a match they looked capable of winning. The side showed just one change from last weekend's on the basis that it's best to get straight back on a horse after falling off. Many of them will wish they had not bothered saddling up today.
A miserable crowd of some ten thousand odd endured a miserable performance by Telfer's men which asks more questions than it answered. Their forwards were rolled back in mauls and failed to make much of a dent in the Uruguayan scrum. One short-range penalty charge was halted with embarrassing ease by the part-timers.
Without the nanny presence of John Leslie to tell them what to do and when to do it, the backs looked aimless and even the old head of Alan Tait appeared to be doing little other than topping his shoulders for much of the game.
Kenny Logan and Diego Aguirre swapped early penalties before the home forwards muscled their way over the Uruguayan line in the thirteenth minute for Martin Leslie to claim his second try in as many games. However, Scotland were far from polished in the opening quarter as they attempted to put too much width on the ball without first commiting the defence.
Gregor Townsend made several good touch finds, someone has evidently told him that it's just in front of the crowd, but Gordon Bulloch's throwing at the lineout continues to cause concern. He missed his man on several occasions and several other throws required generosity from referee Stuart Dickenson as they looked pretty crooked.
Tries from Gary Armstrong, round the front of a lineout, and Gordon Simpson, from a short-range scrum, ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over. The two Scottish scores were split by a Sciarra penalty for the visitors. Glen Metcalfe also bagged a score after a break by Gary Armstrong sliced open the visitors' defence. Metcalfe handed off several tackles, and his own skipper, to extend the Scots' lead to 29-6 with five minutes of the first half still to play.
The Uruguayans then spent those last five minutes doing what they do best and mauling the ball upfield. Even the backs got involved and they were only halted after crossing the Scottish line but unfortunately they failed to ground the ball.
A high tackle by Martin Leslie on fullback Cardosa, for which he was shown the yellow card, allowed Sciarra another shot at goal with the last kick of the half, but the score remained 29-6 at the break.
Uruguay had their tails up at the beginning of the second half after Logan had been caught while trying to counter from his own twenty-two. Aguirre kicked his second, and his side's third penalty, from dead in front of the sticks.
Seventeen minutes into the second half, and with Uruguay's amateurs threatening to dominate proceedings, Aguirre kicked another penalty and the crowd that stayed away looked the wise ones. This show wasn't worth loose change let alone the £35 asking price.
Inevitably the full time professionals made their greater fitness tell in the final twenty, but not before Jamie Mayer and Cammie Murray had both spilled the ball in the opposition twenty-two. Townsend finally scooted over the Uruguayan line from an attacking ruck. It had taken the home side fully thirty minutes to open their second-half account.
Replacement hooker Rob Russell then grabbed a score at the death to lend a veneer of respectibility to the score line, although his throwing at the lioneout proved no better than the man he replaced.
To be fair to the Scots, today's opposition proved mighty difficult to beat for some of the wrong reasons. After the rolling maul, their best tactic was the "kill the ball" which all fifteen had practised to perfection. That they received only one yellow card for this offence was astonishing and referee Dickinson spent so long talking to skipper Diego Ormaechea that they will probably be swapping Christmas cards for life.
The Scots will hope to forget this one as soon as possible. They can take no comfort from any aspect and it will simply go down as a bad day at the office. Had they been this bad against the Springboks they would have leaked a century. They can only hope that John Leslie sparks them back to life, ankle permitting. I suspect Jim Telfer will be looking hard at bringing several alternatives on from the bench when they take on Spain.