It is for The 39 Steps that Perth's most celebrated son, John Buchan, is best remembered. Chris Paterson went one better on the outskirts of the ancient Scottish capital on Saturday night. With three tries, 11 conversions and one penalty, the Edinburgh wing took 40 points - scoring steps in a non-contest of an international that would have been more appropriately showcased on a cricket pitch than in a football stadium.
In the process, the former Scotland captain took one mighty stride past the great Andy Irvine into second place in his country's all-time international scoring chart. At the age of 26, and after 48 caps, Paterson now has 303 points to his name - 30 more than Irvine amassed in his career as a full-back of supreme distinction, but still a long-way short of Gavin Hastings' record haul of 667.
"It's always nice to achieve these things," Paterson reflected. "But the game has changed so much it's very difficult to make comparisons between players nowadays and players gone by. For one thing, there are five points for a try now.
"But the most important thing tonight was that we won. That was vitally important for the players and the management, and for the spectators as well. It's been a long time since Scotland have been cheered on to victory." Not since August 2003, and a World Cup warm-up success against Italy at Murrayfield, had the Scots achieved a victory in front of their own supporters. Their only previous win in nine matches under Matt Williams this year was against Samoa in Wellington in June - a tour match that was not televised back home.
It was a historic win, too - Scotland's first century in 133 years of international competition, eclipsing the record score they rattled up in their 89-0 rout of the Ivory Coast in a 1995 World Cup match in Rustenberg (44 of them courtesy of Hastings, an individual Scottish record Paterson narrowly missed at McDiarmid Park). It was an occasion savoured with relish by the 10,278 spectators who packed into St Johnstone's football ground three hours after the Saints had drawn 1-1 with Ross County in a First Division match.
Judging by their wild celebrations, the Perthshire public cared little that the victory was looking as hollow as the Japanese expressions long before the final whistle. The land of the rising scrum thirteen months ago, when they were within four points of the Scots with 14 minutes remaining of their World Cup engagement in Townsville, Japan saw their reputation sink once Scotland got into their stride in the second quarter.
Their largely inexperienced side shipped 15 tries in all, to 11 different scorers. "I think the opposition will be disappointed in how they played," Paterson acknowledged, "but we still had to score the tries. There are lots of plays that you work on in training and never get a chance to try out in games. We did that tonight, so we've got that in the back pocket now. We've also got a win and that will breed confidence.
"But the first 20 minutes was a negative for us. We made a lot of mistakes and against a better team we would have been punished severely. Last week we didn't play well against Australia for 20 minutes and they slapped 28 points on us."
Paterson and his colleagues recovered from that Murrayfield lapse to peg the Wallabies back to 31-14 by the final whistle. They will get the chance to gain full atonement over 80 minutes against the World Cup runners-up at Hampden Park this Saturday.
Scotland: H Southwell (Edinburgh); C Paterson (Edinburgh), B Hinshelwood (Worcester), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Lamont (Glasgow); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Borders); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), G Bulloch (Glasgow), G Kerr (Leeds), S Grimes (Newcastle), N Hines (Edinburgh), A Hogg (Edinburgh), D Macfadyen (Glasgow), J Petrie (Glasgow). Replacements: S MacLeod (Borders) for Grimes, 32, h-t, 65; R Russell (London Irish) for Bulloch, h-t; M Blair (Edinburgh) for Cusiter, h-t; G Morrison (Glasgow) for Hinshelwood, 46; J White (Sale) for Hogg, 58; G Ross (Leeds) for Parks, 58; C Smith (Edinburgh) for Jacobsen, 70.
Japan: R Miki (World Fighting Bull); K Kubota (NEC), S Shimomura (Sanyo), Y Motoki (Kobe Steel), H Daimon (Kobe Steel); K Sawaki (Suntory), W Ikeda (Sanyo); Y Hisadomi (NEC), T Yamaoka (Suntory), R Yamamura (Yamaha), T Kumagai (NEC), H Ono (Toshiba), N Okubo (Southland), H Kiso (Yamaha), T Miuchi (NEC). Replacements: F Mau (World Fighting Bull) for Ono, h-t; H Yoshida (Kubota Spears) for Miki, 46; M Mukoyama (NEC Green Rockets) for Mutoki, 55; Mitsugu Yamamoto (Toyota) for Hisadomi, 67; T Yamaguchi (Kubota Spears) for Okubu, 68; K Tanaka (Suntory Sungoliath) for Ikeda, 72; Mashahito Yamamoto (Sanyo) for Yamaoka, 77.
Referee: A Cole (Australia).Reuse content