05 June 2012

Nine - six

Ordinarily, I might have said "Stuff it, it's too hot to sit inside a bar".  But the sky was full of cloud and the temperature was nothing more than equable.  I lit a cigarette as I walked down the road, knowing that I would not get another until half-time.

It was raining heavily in Australia and the wind was blowing a gale.  Scotland played with the wind (and the rain) in the first half.  The boys worked hard but there was little fluent rugby on either side.  A Scottish lead of six-three at half-time did not seem enough.  I ordered a fry-up to console myself and prepared myself for an inevitable deluge of Australian penalties in the second half.  And sure enough it was soon six-six.

But then something unexpected happened.  The Scottish forwards and backs scythed down the Australian attackers and, even if play rarely left the Scottish half, the defence became increasingly magnificent.  Guts, commitment, effort, discipline, a refusal to concede.  As the clock ticked on, I began to think that Scotland might - just possibly - hold out for a draw.  But then in the 78th minute, a misplaced Australian up and under bounced over the Scottish dead ball line.  Scrum back, in the Aussie half, the first time Scotland had broken out of their own half for a long long time.

By now, the blue-clad pack were putting the squeeze on the Australian front row and, although the 80 minute hooter had sounded, Scotland were awarded a penalty 40 metres out.  Laidlaw duly converted to give Scotland their first win for ages.

As I left the bar, the sun had come out ...

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