Australia 33 Scotland 16 (RWC Quarter-final)
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Saturday, 8 November 2003 11pm (NZT)
Referee: (New Zealand)
Half-time: Australia 9 Scotland 9
When the Scottish rugby team sang Flower of Scotland at Suncorp Stadium at Saturday night's Rugby World Cup semi-final against Australia, one could sense these understated and under-rated players would put in a good showing. They did.
For all the taciturn and rather unconvincing play in their Pool B play (32-11 over Japan, 39-15 against the United States, losing 51-9 to France and scraping a 22-20 win over Fiji), there was still enough heart in the squad for at least giving their all against the current World Cup holders.
Three penalty goals to Chris Paterson and absorbing a lot of Australian pressure ensured the Scots went into the second half locked up at 9-all in what was probably the Scots' best game of the tournament.
But with three tries to Wallaby skipper George Gregan, Stirling Mortlock and David Lyons in the second half (all converted by Elton Flatley along with his three first half penalties) meant the courageous effort was ultimately in vain. Still, they could hold their heads high at the end for their determined showing, including a second-try to Rob Russell, converted by Paterson.
The Wallabies were loose in their overall play and the hardened Scots were just the team to capitalise on this, but allowing a couple of sideline bursts by the home team's backline proved ultimately costly.
The Scots could tackle, could play with determination and were brave in heart and spirit. Having got this far they were determined to make the most of the occasion. They did as much as they could in all the circumstances.
But the Wallabies saw the game as the obstacle to a semi-final berth and their more determined attitude saw them come through. They look as dangerous on the backline as ever. The All Blacks must know that, whatever mixed feedback the Wallabies have had, their opponents in Sydney are capable of beating them at any time. The question now is: who will have the greater staying power at crunch-time?
The Wallabies have not won the Rugby World Cup twice for no reason. The All Blacks need to hammer that into themselves this week if they are to come through.