NEWCASTLE, Australia – Greig Laidlaw converted a penalty against a fierce wind with the last kick of the game to hand Scotland a stunning 9-6 victory over Australia in atrocious weather on Tuesday and end his country’s seven-match losing streak.
A match rendered almost farcical by gale-force winds and torrential rain looked destined to end in a draw until Scotland were awarded a penalty some 25 metres from the line for an scrum infringement two minutes after the siren.
Flyhalf Laidlaw, whose own line-break had got the Scots into the Australian half, steadied his nerves, waited for the wind to die down a little before kicking the ball hard and high between the posts to secure a famous victory.
It was a second successive win for the Scots over the Wallabies after their victory in Edinburgh in 2009 but their first in Australia since 1982 and followed a run of defeats going back to last year’s World Cup.
“The boys are over the moon we put in a big shift in defence they put their bodies on the line,” said Scotland captain Ross Ford.
“Contrary to popular belief we prefer playing in dry weather. Our boys just stuck in there and stuck to their task.
“We put ourselves under a lot of pressure but when we finally got the ball we made the most of it.
“I think it’s phenomenal, a great morale boost for the squad especially against a side like Australia.”
Australia elected to play against the wind in the first half and were delighted to be just 6-3 down at the break after it looked like Scotland had squandered their significant advantage.
The first half was largely a siege of the Wallabies line but the Scots lacked the imagination to break down the Australian defence and came away with only two Laidlaw penalties.
Scotland came closest to a try when fullback Stuart Hogg hoisted a huge up-and-under which Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia missed completely and he had to rely on the pace of debutant winger Joe Tomane to save the day.
Australia centre Mike Harris closed the deficit to 6-3 with a penalty eight minutes before the break and, with the posts wobbling in the wind, added another two minutes after halftime to square the match.
The 20,000 crowd then waited in vain for the Wallabies onslaught to begin.
The weather was largely to blame for the fact that it never materialised, although ferocious Scots tackling and a lack of imagination on the part of the Australians played parts too.
Despite a huge advantage in territory and possession, the makeshift side were unable to breach the Scottish line after lock Rob Simmons ploughed over under a pile of bodies after 55th minutes but was denied a try by the television review.
Harris miscued a drop goal attempt and both he and Berrick Barnes missed optimistic penalties from long range as the wind swirled around the Hunter Stadium.
“They’re no the worst conditions I’ve experienced,” grinned Ford. “But it was right up there.”
Australia, who blooded six new caps, also lost their opening test last season, at home to Samoa, and are certain to field a very different side when they begin their three-test series against Six Nations champions Wales in Brisbane on Saturday.
“We weren’t on the same page in terms of banking games like that, it’s not in our DNA but it’s an art that we’ve got to develop,” said coach Robbie Deans.
“We had enough possession to put the game beyond reach but credit to Scotland, they had one opportunity in the second half and they took it.”
Scotland will move on to tests against Fiji and Samoa buoyed by taking the scalp of the world’s second-ranked team.
“Back-to-back victories against Australia for a Scotland team is immense and I’m absolutely delighted for Ross, the players and their families that they were able to get a victory like that,” said coach Andy Robinson.