Rugby World Cup 2003
Scots make it into last eight
November 1, 2003
Scotland had the kicking of Chris Paterson to thank for victory
© Getty Images
A try to prop Tom Smith with four minutes remaining has propelled Scotland into the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals with a 22-20 win against Fiji at Aussie Stadium.
Scotland, who finished second in Pool B behind France, will meet the winner of the game to come between Australia and Ireland. Scotland has never failed to reach the quarter-finals in four previous World Cups, but it looked like the record would be broken when two brilliant tries to Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca gave his side a 14-6 lead at half-time.
But the boot of Scottish flyhalf Chris Paterson proved the difference with five penalties ensuring his side was never out of touch. Paterson landed his fifth penalty to put Scotland in front 15-14 in the 62nd minute.
In a tight finish, Fiji look poised to defy Scotland and the heat when flyhalf Nicky Little landed two penalties to put his side back in front 20-15 with six minutes remaining. Scotland, who completely controlled the second half, did not panic and were rewarded when Smith emerged from the bottom of a maul after a lineout win in the 76th minute.
The energy-sapping heat made life difficult for both sides, but it was Scotland who handled the conditions best. Things looked grim for Scotland at half-time however, with Caucaunibuca threatening to win the game on his own. After sitting out the past two games due to suspension, Caucaunibuca made an explosive return.
He scored the opening try after a 20m dart down the sideline in the 12th minute and was unlucky not to have crossed for at least two other tries in the first 20 minutes. Fiji made all the attacking in the opening 25 minutes. Along with Caucaunibuca's efforts, fellow winger winger Aisea Tuilevu was taken into the corner post by a classic tackle by Scottish fullback Glenn Metcalfe in the 16th minute.
Paterson reduced the lead to 7-6 after 30 minutes as Scotland showed some of their best form of the tournament to threaten Fiji's line. But just as it seemed Scotland would cross before half-time it was Caucaunibuca who broke the game open again with a blistering 55m run in the 35th minute that left the defence in his wake.
Paterson landed the first of his three second-half penalties in the 44th minute to spark the Scottish revival.
Scotland 22 Try: Tom Smith Conversion: Chris Paterson Pens: Paterson 5
Fiji 20 Try: Rupeni Caucaunibuca 2 Conv: Nicky Little Pens: Little 2
Referee: Tony Spreadbury (England)