RUGBY UNION: Australia's forward march

Captain Rob Wainwright of the Royal Army Medical Corps may have cut quite a dash in a top-of-the-range waterproof coat and a pair of regulation- issue tartan trousers that bordered on the outrageous, but until Scotland's skipper in absentia is in a position to consign his civvies to the wardrobe and return to the uniform of battle - blue shirt, white shorts, rugby boots - his once-passionate fellow forwards may well continue to resemble a powder puff unit in abject retreat.

Australia's 29-19 victory at Murrayfield was as bloodless a coup as it is possible to stage on enemy territory. Their mountainous pack weighed in at a stone and a half heavier per man and, infinitely more cohesive in thought and deed, they dominated their opponents so effortlessly that the Scots looked suspiciously under-motivated as well as overmatched.

Wainwright may be nursing groin and Achilles injuries at the moment but it is not unreasonable to suggest that even on one leg he would have tripled the amount of clout his companions brought to the proceedings before the subdued 51,000 Edinburgh audience.

Which is not to say that Gregor Townsend let the side down on his first big occasion as Wainwright's successor. If the game itself was played out in unsatisfying monochrome, there was an extraordinary amount to admire in Townsend's creative performance in midfield, embellished as it was with pace, variety and sleight of hand. In conjuring up tries for both his wings and masterminding at least as many near misses, the Northampton maestro was the most accomplished back on view - a real loaves and fishes effort given the paucity of the supplies at his disposal.

Yet in coaxing the best from the runners around him - Rowen Shepherd's precise angles of support from full-back ensured the artistry did not go entirely unappreciated - Townsend unwittingly shed direct light on the difficulties of galvanising a struggling pack from the remote outpost of outside-centre.

Wainwright, who is still not sure whether he can expect to resume business in five weeks or three months, was able to provide the necessary inspiration last season because he was up there amid the mud and bullets with the rest of the infantry, soaking up his fair share of punishment and then going back for more. Without him, the Scottish eight looked emasculated on Saturday.

Richie Dixon, the Scottish coach, pointed to his forward's difficulties at scrum and line-out as the root cause of defeat, and it was certainly true that John Eales, the Wallaby captain, and a lively front row, in which Richard Harry confirmed his potential as a world-class prop in the making, asked far too many awkward questions of their hosts. That much was predictable, though; what few foresaw was the insipid and ultimately futile effort in the loose, where Ian Smith tried to construct a one-man dam in the face of a tidal wave.

It was not as if the Wallabies, clearly suffering from nerves born of inexperience and unfamiliarity, were running hot. Sam Payne's untidy display at scrum-half undermined any number of promising raids, Pat Howard's leg injury prevented him from building on some flashes of early brilliance, and with Tim Horan struggling to translate his midfield dynamism to the backwaters of the right wing, there was little of the Michael Lynagh in their back-line performance and even less of the Mark Ella.

Damningly enough, the Australians found Patrick Thomas, the French referee, more difficult to fathom than anything the Scots brought to the contest. Greg Smith, a dry and wickedly outspoken humourist in the grand tradition of more than one of his predecessors as Wallaby coach, let rip on the subject afterwards: "It's difficult to present a marketable product if the person in control keeps stopping it. There was far too much whistle; these guys have got to take some responsibility but it doesn't seem to worry them. Let's hope it worries the people who assess them."

Smith was being only half-serious - "I'm always like this after a victory so perhaps I need some counselling," - but while he has a semblance of a point, the most laughable decision of the lot did not hang on the referee's interpretation of the abstruse laws surrounding quick lineouts, the Wallaby's main bone of contention, but concerned the last-minute try awarded to Tony Stanger. The Hawick wing was so far in touch when he attempted to ground the ball at the right corner that any of the watching stewards would have been justified in charging him pounds 27 for a stand seat. Thankfully for Thomas and his equally short-sighted touch judge, the game had been dead for some time.

There was nothing remotely questionable about the Scot's opening try, which fell to Kenny Logan via Townsend's high-quality floated pass. "They scored a lot of points against the All Blacks during the summer and now we can see why," Smith said. "They show a great deal of initiative with the ball and their catch-pass skills hold up well under pressure. If they could overcome their problems in the line-out they would be difficult to handle."

"If" is a big word, however. The Scots were almost resigned to defeat as early as the 12th minute when Warwick Waugh, 19 stone of mean-eyed aggression, managed to rumble off the edge of a driving maul and land with a resounding thump over the Scottish line. Matt Burke's goal-kicking and Daniel Herbert's classically simple two-on-one try 12 minutes from time completed a victory far more comfortable than the final, distorted scoreline suggested.

The Wallaby back division will require a tweak here and there before the internationals in Dublin and Cardiff over the next three weeks - David Campese, keen to emphasise that his tour selection was based on form rather than sentiment, is chomping at the bit - but when you are armed with a pack that makes Sydney Opera House look like a rabbit hutch, adjustments to your three-quarter line are among life's little luxuries.

Scotland Tries Logan, Stanger; Penalties Shepherd 3. Australia Tries Waugh, Herbert; Conversions Burke 2; Penalties Burke 5.

SCOTLAND: R Shepherd; A Stanger, G Townsend (capt), R Eriksson, K Logan; C Chalmers, G Armstrong (B Redpath, 76); D Hilton, K McKenzie, B Stewart, D Cronin, D Weir, M Wallace, E Peters, I Smith.

AUSTRALIA: M Burke; T Horan, D Herbert, P Howard, J Roff; D Knox, S Payne; R Harry, M Foley, A Blades, W Waugh, J Eales (capt), O Finnegan (B Robinson, 64), D Manu, D Wilson.

Referee: P Thomas (France).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker