A COURAGEOUS Scotland caused another major boilover, beating a disappointing Wallabies 9-6 as Test rugby arrived on a wild and woolly night in Newcastle.
A crowd of 20,088 braved driving rain and gale force winds at Hunter Stadium and were left with an empty feeling after Scotland five-eighth Greig Laidlaw landed a last-minute penalty goal to secure the visitors their first win in Australia in 30 years.
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The conditions prevented an open spectacle but it was an absorbing contest, reminiscent of the last meeting between the two countries at Murrayfield in 2009.
The Scots triumphed 9-8 on that night – their first win over Australia in 27 years – and they produced another mighty defensive effort to record their first win against any opposition this year and retain the Hopetoun Cup.
‘‘Back-to-back victories for a Scottish team against Australia is immense,’’ Scotland coach Andy Robinson said.
‘‘I’m delighted. It was very important for the side to show the courage we showed particularly when you turn around at half-time 6-3. It was going to have to be an amazing effort to win the game.
‘‘What gave us a real belief today was the weather. It was a real leveller.’’
Australia trailed 6-3 at half-time and, with the wind at their backs, looked set to run home over the top of the visitors. They had the majority of possession and field position in the second half but could not penetrate the resolute Scots.
Such was the frustration that with seven minutes remaining Berrick Barnes resorted to a field-goal attempt to break the deadlock but it went wide.
The Scots didn’t make it into the Wallabies half until the dying stages and were rewarded when Australian prop Ben Alexander was penalised for folding in at a scrum engagement.
‘‘We had enough possession to put the game beyond reach,’’ a disappointed Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said.
‘‘Credit to Scotland, they had one opportunity in the second half and took it.
‘‘The opposition tend to grow a leg the further the game goes.’’
Deans felt for the Hunter faithful.
‘‘It was a shame about the conditions, but it was good to see a big crowd here,’’ he said.
‘‘The Newcastle people were excited and looking forward to it, but it was a bit of a dampener.’’
The Wallabies, who wore black arm bands in honour of late Hamilton Hawks centre Tevita Maile, were without several key men.
The Wallabies’ six debutants battled hard but lacked a cutting edge.
They now face the ominous task of backing up against Six Nation champions Wales in Brisbane on Saturday.
Halfback Will Genia described last night’s conditions as the coldest he had experienced.
‘‘The rain and wind had a major impact on the game,’’ he said. ‘‘I couldn’t feel my fingers at times.
‘‘It affected your rhythm and co-ordination.’’
The rain started to sweep in over the ground 90 minutes before the scheduled start and was sheeting down almost sideways by kick-off.
The Wallabies won the toss but surprisingly elected to run into the wind and driving rain. Essentially, they backed their defence.
Kicking into the wind was almost pointless.
Will Genia’s first box kick hung up in the wind and was lucky to clear the ruck.
The Scots dominated possession in the first half and were camped in Wallabies territory for long periods.
Halfback Mike Blair darted across from short range in the eighth minute but the ball slipped from his grasp.
Ten minutes later Wallabies debutant winger Joe Tomane saved a certain try when he scrambled back to recover a bomb that had sailed over Genia’s head and bounced in goal.
The Scots went ahead 6-0 through a brace of penalties by Laidlaw, the second from near the left touchline.
The Wallabies managed to stem the flow of possession late in the half before Mike Harris reduced the margin to 6-3 after the Scots were pinged for being offside.
It was the first time the Scots had led the Wallabies at half-time since 1992.
The lead evaporated two minutes into the second half when Harris landed his second penalty.
The Scots sent the restart over the touchline, signalling a swing in momentum.
But like they did at Murrayfield, the Scots defended for their lives.
Wallabies replacement forward Rob Simmons was held up in the 55th minute as the Scots continued to absorb wave after wave of attack.
The further the game went the more the Scots’ resolve grew and the more desperate the Wallabies appeared.