Big defeat fails to dent Scottish optimism

Australia 34 Scotland ;13
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The Independent Online

After an ultimately convincing defeat at the Telstra Stadium, Matt Williams reflected on his first tour in charge of Scotland, on back-to-back defeats to the Wallabies and on the development of a host of young players, and declared: "I could not have wished for more."

Hardened critics, frustrated by too many false dawns in Scottish rugby, will continue to point a harsh finger at Williams for glossing over key problem areas. After all, he has not yet delivered consistent results and for all the talk of 18-month or four-year plans, a win is still a win. Without any Williams will struggle to see his project through to completion.

His only Test victory so far was over Samoa in Wellington. When it came to the Wallabies, Williams' men, brave and committed, were found wanting - they simply could not score tries. In the first Test, Scotland defended as if they were at Bannockburn; in the second, on Saturday, they grew in ambition and creativity but missed crucial tackles as the Wallabies outscored the visitors by nine tries to one in the series.

Williams is confident those areas will be improved upon now the players realise that with clinical execution and a watertight defence they might have had a shot at turning Saturday's 34-13 defeat into a victory. "Last night, we played like we believed we could win," said Williams. "We set the agenda. But we didn't score the points required and that is extremely disappointing."

Australia scored tries through Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor, Morgan Turinui and Joe Roff, to Chris Cusiter's lone score for Scotland. "It was so uplifting and fulfilling, but frustrating and heartbreaking because we didn't deserve that scoreline," said Williams.

Australia: Tries Tuqiri 2, Sailor, Turinui, Roff. Conversions Roff 3. Penalties Roff. Scotland: Try Cusiter. Conversion Parks. Penalties Parks 2

AUSTRALIA: J Roff (ACT); W Sailor (Queensland), S Mortlock (ACT), M Turinui (NSW), L Tuqiri (NSW); S Larkham (ACT), G Gregan (ACT, capt); B Young (ACT), B Cannon (NSW), A Baxter (NSW), J Harrison (NSW), N Sharpe (Queensland), R Samo (ACT), P Waugh (NSW), D Lyons (NSW). Replacements: M Dunning (NSW) for Baxter 55; D Vickerman (NSW) for Harrison 58; C Rathbone (ACT) for Mortlock 58; J Paul (ACT) for Cannon 59; G Smith (ACT) for Samo 63; C Latham (Queensland) for Sailor 69.

SCOTLAND: H Southwell (Edinburgh); S Lamont (Glasgow), B Hinshelwood (Worcester), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Webster (Edinburgh); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Borders); T Smith (Northampton), G Bulloch (Glasgow), B Douglas (Borders), I Fullarton (Saracens), S Murray (Edinburgh, capt), J White (Sale), D Macfadyen (Glasgow), A Hogg (Edinburgh). Replacements: C Hamilton (Newcastle) for Fullarton 49; G Ross (Leeds) for Parks 70; J Petrie (Glasgow) for Murray 72; G Morrison (Glasgow) for Henderson 77.

Referee: M Lawrence (South Africa)