Rugby Union: Rusty Scotland restore pride

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The Independent Online
Victoria 13

Scotland 42

SCOTLAND regained some pride by beating the Australian provincial side Victoria 42-13 in Melbourne yesterday, in their first match since being humiliated by Fiji last week.

In the opening fixture of their Australia tour, Scotland claimed a much- needed, though scratchy, victory over one of the weakest provincial teams in a match littered with errors. The Scotland captain Stuart Reid offered "no excuses" after his side failed to impress, but following Tuesday's 52-26 humbling to Fiji in Suva, a one-off Test on the way to Australia, the victory was a valuable morale-booster.

"The main thing was the victory. The tour is back on the road," said Reid, but neither the captain nor the coach Jim Telfer were happy with the tourists' rusty performance just two weeks before their first Test against Australia in Sydney.

"I was quite disappointed with some aspects of the game." Telfer said. "We have to keep possession rather than kick it away."

Although they ran in six tries to one, Scotland tired in the latter stages of the match to let their hosts back into the game. Victoria needed no second invitation and gave the tourists a torrid last 20 minutes, rocking them back on their heels as the province scored their only try, one of the best of the match.

Scotland struggled for composure at the the game's opening but were steadied by the goal- kicking of the stand-off Duncan Hodge, who kicked two penalties in reply to one by the Victoria centre Jack Goodman.

The Under-21 cap Alan Bulloch provided the breakthrough for the Scots when he ran in for a try in the corner and, although a second Goodman penalty narrowed the tourists' lead, the Scotland full-back Glenn Metcalfe - the game's outstanding player - then added a fine individual try down the left, Hodge converting.

With half-time approaching, the Scots struck again, Rowen Shepherd, playing at inside centre rather than his customary role at full-back, running in under the posts leaving Hodge with a simple conversion.

Scotland started the second half briskly with a second try from Metcalfe, again converted by Hodge, and then in a four-minute period they added further touchdowns through Cameron Mather and then Hodge.

But then Scotland began dropping passes, kicking away possession and losing command of the rucks. It was Victoria, urged on by their coach John Kelsey, who took the honours in the last quarter, their efforts rewarded with a try by the flanker Cameron Frater from a break by the substitute Karl Tora. Goodman added the conversion.

"They're going to have a hard time," the Victoria coach John Kelsey said of Scotland, conceding his side were likely to be their softest encounter, a point which New South Wales, Scotland's first big opposition, will be keen to prove next Saturday in Sydney. At least Scotland still have Tuesday's match against a New South Wales Country XV to scrape away some of their rustiness.

Victoria: A Pilli; D Snaddon, M Nasalio, J Goodman, A Bolavatanoki; J Berger, S Brown; L Oxenham, D Thompson, I Naiuku, B Parsons, S Decker, C Frater, R Pale, J Ross.

Scotland: G Metcalfe; A Bulloch, D Officer, R Shepherd, C Joiner; D Hodge, G Burns; P Wright, S Brotherstone, M Stewart, R Metcalfe, S Grimes, C Mather, S Reid, G Simpson.

Referee: G Ayoub (NSW).