Paterson's boot polish earns Scots shiny finish

Scotland 9 Australia 8

With seven minutes remaining on the clock at the home of Scottish rugby on Saturday evening, and with the hosts 6-3 to the good on the scoreboard, Rocky Elsom drove over the halfway line with intent writ large upon his face. The Australian captain did not get very far. He was grabbed around the legs by Jason White, pounced on by John Barclay, and duly penalised for holding on to possession.

Chris Paterson – like White, one of the Caledonian cavalry called up from the replacements' bench midway through the second half – kicked to the left touchline and hooker Ross Ford threw the ball to Nathan Hines at the front of the line-out. There followed a series of 10 crisp drives by the Scottish forwards before Rory Lawson, a replacement for the wounded Scotland captain and scrum-half Chris Cusiter, shipped the ball back and Paterson calmly pulled the trigger of his right boot from a range of 25 metres. He hit the bullseye. Scotland were 9-3 up and on the cusp of a historic victory.

All in, the three-minute passage was a thing of sheer rugby beauty: the cool, clinical, controlled manner in which possession was gained, in which the drop-goal opportunity was engineered, and in which Paterson executed the three-point score. Sitting in the coaches' box at the back of the West Stand, Scotland's head coach gave a smile of quiet satisfaction.

In a previous coaching existence, Andy Robinson had been responsible for knocking England's forwards into the kind of shape that set up that last-gasp drop at glory in the 2003 World Cup final for Jonny Wilkinson. The Webb Ellis Trophy might not have been at stake at Murrayfield on Saturday but it was an achievement of considerable import to Scottish rugby that Paterson's kick ultimately secured – after the heart-sinking moment of Ryan Cross breaching the home try line 15 seconds into overtime and the blessed relief of Matt Giteau's mangled conversion attempt, that is.

Not since 4 July 1982, had Scotland got the better of Australia. Inspired by Andy Irvine, their buccaneering full-back and captain, they won 12-7 at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane that day – the same day that Jimmy Connors beat John McEnroe in a five-set thriller of a Wimbledon final. In the 27 years since then, no Scotland side had managed to get within 10 points of the Wallabies, nor succeeded in restricting them to a tally of less than 27. And this was, with one exception, the same Australian XV that cruised to an untroubled 18-9 win at Twickenham two weeks previously.

It was an unlikely success forged on the same kind of Herculean defensive effort that earned Scotland an 18-12 win against England at Murrayfield in February 2006, when Robinson was on the suffering end as the visiting head coach. The tackle count on that occasion was 112-36. On Saturday evening it was 129-64 to the Scots.

"I've said to the team that that's the most courageous performance I've ever been involved in," Robinson reflected. "The effort that was put in, the way the team got off the floor and kept knocking them back – and credit to Graham Steadman, our defence coach – was incredible. We needed a bit of luck, but the guys worked hard to establish that luck. If we can perform like that, with that same courage every time we go on the pitch, then we can grow as a team. I'd like us to have more ball, but that's the platform for us now. That's the baseline."

Robinson's men are likely to need rather more possession and territory against Argentina this coming Saturday if they are to send their influential head honcho into the Six Nations Championship with a three-wins-from-three 100 per cent record behind him. They had precious little of either against Australia but produced a masterclass in how to play rugby minus the ball. Their scramble defence was superb. Stephen Moore, the Wallaby hooker, had the line at his mercy midway through the first half but in a flash, Rory Lamont, Cusiter and Moray Low were all over him and the player and ball were held up.

It was a similar story when Elsom barged over the line six minutes into the second half. Between them, prop Allan Jacobsen and lock and stand-in captain Al Kellock kept the ball off the floor. Cross did ground the ball over the whitewash after a 20-phase assault took the contest into overtime but then Giteau miscued the conversion, making Paterson's drop and Phil Godman's two penalties sufficient for the Scots to prevail.

The Wallaby fly-half had already fluffed two penalties and a drop goal and he held his head in his hands as his final effort flew wide. "We got what we deserved for not taking our chances," Robbie Deans, Australia's Kiwi head coach, lamented. "But credit to Scotland for their brave defence." Credit indeed.

Scotland: R Lamont (Toulon); S Lamont (Scarlets), A Grove (Worcester), G Morrison (Glasgow), S Danielli (Ulster); P Godman (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow, captain); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), M Low (Glasgow), N Hines (Leinster), A Kellock (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), J Barclay (Glasgow), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: R Lawson (Gloucester) for Cusiter, 21; N De Luca (Edinburgh) for Morrison, h-t; J White (Clermont Auvergne) for Strokosch, 48; R Vernon (Glasgow) for Beattie, 63; C Paterson (Edinburgh) for Danielli, 63); D Hall (Glasgow) for Ford, 77.

Australia: A Ashley-Cooper (Brumbies); P Hynes (Queensland), R Cross (Western Force), Q Cooper (Queensland), D Mitchell (NSW); M Giteau (Queensland), W Genia (Queensland); B Robinson (NSW), S Moore (Brumbies), B Alexander (Brumbies), J Horwill (Queensland), M Chisholm (Brumbies), R Elsom (Brumbies, captain), G Smith (Brumbies), W Palau (NSW). Replacements: S Kepu (NSW) for Robinson, 17; T Polota-Nau (NSW) for Moore, 46; D Mumm (NSW) for Chisholm, 50; L Burgess (NSW) for Genia, 63; R Brown (W Force) for Palu, 65; J O'Connor (W Force) for Cooper, 73.

Referee: R Poite (France).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'