Greig Laidlaw kicked a penalty in stoppage time to give Scotland a shocking 9-6 win over the Wallabies in howling wind and driving rain on Tuesday night in Newcastle to end a three-decade drought in Australia.
It was Scotland’s first win over the Wallabies in Australia since 1982 and gave the squad a big lift ahead of their Pacific Islands tour after coming off a disappointing last-place finish in the Six Nations.
For the No. 2-ranked Wallabies, it was a woeful start to back-to-back international seasons after stunning upset loss to Samoa to kick off the 2011 season.
That loss and now two in two tests against Scotland rank among the worst in Robbie Deans’ tenure as Australia coach. The Scots edged Australia with a late dropped goal at Murrayfield in 2009 and played with the same kind of determination and intensity in miserable conditions at Newcastle.
“The boys are over the moon. The conditions … weren’t for running rugby, but boys dug in well in defence,” Scotland captain Ross Ford said.
“We put ourselves under a lot of pressure, but when we finally got the ball, we made the most of it.
“It’s phenomenal. It’s a great morale booster for the squad.”
The injury-ravaged Australians will have to regroup quickly to have any chance of beating Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales in Brisbane on Saturday night.
There will be changes to the Wallabies squad, but many of the key players will be backing up four days after the humbling defeat.
Laidlaw kicked two first-half goals with a strong breeze at his back to give the Scots a 6-0 lead but Mike Harris levelled the score with penalties on either side of half-time. Harris missed two long-range shots at goal, Berrick Barnes missed an attempted dropped goal and replacement lock Rob Simmons was held up over the line as Australia dominated possession in the second half.
But the turning point came when Harris kicked the ball dead from more than 60 metres out late in the match, allowing the Scots into the attacking quarter for a rare opportunity in the second half.
The Scottish pack shoved the Australian scrum off the ball and drew a penalty after the full-time siren, which Laidlaw landed the kick to spark celebrations.
“Obviously, it’s a tough one to swallow,” Deans said.
“You’ve got to give credit to Scotland. They had one possession in our 22 in the second half and they turned it into points.
“We could have, and should have, put the game beyond doubt, but didn’t, and left the door ajar.”