Rugby World Cup 2003
Wallabies see off resilient Scots
November 8, 2003
Stirling Mortlock swan-dives in for a try
© Getty Images
Australia set up a World Cup semi-final showdown with New Zealand in Sydney next week after an impressive 33-16 triumph over Scotland in Brisbane. The Wallabies responded to a resurgent Scotland showing in the first half to blow the Scots away with three second half tries from Stirling Mortlock, George Gregan and David Lyons.
The defeat brings an end to Ian McGeechan's reign as Scotland coach, as he now takes over from Jim Telfer as Director of Rugby, and his players, led by retiring skipper Bryan Redpath, battled hard in search of an unlikely upset to see him off.
The Scots bounced back from their poor showing against Fiji last time out to rattle the Wallabies in the opening period but in the end they could not match the pace and power of the Wallabies.
Both sides went into the break tied at 9-9 after a tightly fought opening period where a fired up Scotland had more than their fare share of territory and possession. Australia looked keen to spread the ball from the off with both Stirling Mortlock and Lote Tuqiri impressing early on.
The Wallabies opened the scoring through Elton Flatley in the opening minutes when flanker Simon Taylor was penalised at the breakdown but Scotland were determined to meet fire with fire.
The Scottish forwards ensured their back division saw a great deal of good ball and caused their hosts no end of problems, especially at the lineout.
Chris Paterson, who almost missed the game after being struck by a ball in the side's warm-up, levelled the scores minutes later as his side continued to frustrate Australia. However, the Wallabies' expansive tactics began to bring reward. Stephen Larkham orchestrated a break for Tuqiri, and a sure try was missed as Mat Rogers took his eye off the ball and dropped it with Wendell Sailor open outside him.
Australia continued to press with league convert Tuqiri involved on more than one occasion and a spell of pressure inside the Scots' 22 resulted in Flatley slotting another easy three. The Scots continued to show promise but some sloppy handling let them down at key phases.
Sailor was lucky to remain on the field on the half hour when, frustrated at gifting up possession after a big tackle he lashed out with his fists. The blow was doubly painful for the Scots as the lack of a long advantage meant play was called back when a kick from Gregor Townsend looked to have put Kenny Logan in for a score.
Another line-breaking run from Mat Rogers was called back for obstruction against Bill Young and Paterson took the opportunity to level the scores once again. The Wallabies responded well again and when Mortlock was tackled without the ball on the Scots' 22, Flatley once again stepped up to notch another three.
With time running out in the half, the Scots continued the tit-for-tat scoring when Paterson slotted an audacious drop goal from just inside the Wallabies' half. The Wallabies looked determined to step things up after the break and slowly but surely the Scots' challenge fell by the wayside.
Mortlock brought the crowd to its feet just after the interval with the first try of the game but he had a lot to thank the impressive flanker Phil Waugh for. The expert scavenger Waugh produced the turnover on halfway and a missed tackle from Glen Metcalfe saw Mortlock race away for the score.
The swan dive touch down will have the surgeon who pieced his shoulder together wincing but for Mortlock there was only joy. Flatley added the extras as his team looked like they were getting up a head of steam and the crowd were now relaxed enough break into song with Waltzing Matilda ringing out around the Suncorp Stadium.
Stephen Larkham soon hit the cross bar with a drop goal attempt and the following Scottish clearance did not hold the Wallabies back for long. Nathan Sharpe galloped up the middle and into the Scots' 22 before feeding Flatley but he was dragged down just short. But Flatley was up in time to slot another three points as the Scottish forwards infringed again at the breakdown.
Waugh continued to impress and he was centre stage again sweeping up a loose lineout ball. He surged into the Scots' 22 where the cover finally caught up with him.
The Wallabies recycled and fed Tuqiri wide outside, he cut in but couldn't find a way through the stretched defence. However his skipper Gregan conjured a little grubber under the posts and raced onto it to claim the try himself and re-ignite the crowd once more.
With the Wallabies now in full control coach Eddie Jones opted to ring the changes but it did little to stop their momentum. David Lyons burrowed his way over for the next score that was awarded by a flat-on-his-stomach referee Steve Walsh.
Walsh, who was returning from suspension to take charge here should be commended on an excellent game that his extreme methods best exemplify.
Scotland once again rallied towards the end of the gamebut they still lacked the clinical finishing touches that would have brought them closer to the Wallabies. However, their persistence paid off when hooker Robbie Russell found a way over for a late score. The conversion from Paterson reduced the arrears but it was Scotland's last contribution to Rugby World Cup 2003.
Jones will be frustrated his defence allowed a late consulation try ahead of the showdown with the All Blacks and the late injury to replacement Matt Giteau may yet cause further headaches as he plots their downfall. Scotland will fly home knowing they came up short once again but showed enough promise to restore some pride to the bravehearts.
Australia: 33 Try: Mortlock, Gregan, Lyons Con: Flatley (3) Pen: Flatley (4)
Scotland: 16 Try: Russell Con: Paterson Pen: Paterson (2) DG: Paterson
Referee: Referee: S. Walsh (NZ)