When he played his rugby back "home" in New South Wales, Dan Parks was known as "Compass", evidently because of the wanderlust that took him to one club after another in the Sydney conurbation. Operating for Scotland in the pivotal outside-half position against Wales at Murrayfield the season before last, the poor chap lost his bearings, handing Rhys Williams the second of six Welsh tries with a reckless long pass that had more chance of reaching the Scott Monument on Princes Street than the outstretched arms of Scott Murray.
That was the dark day that Scotland - with their hapless Australian coach, Matt Williams, and their seemingly-hopeless Australian No 10 - hit rock bottom with the resounding thud of 46 Welsh points. Twenty months on, the Scots have regained direction under the canny coaching of Frank Hadden, maintaining momentum on Saturday with a fifth successive Murrayfield win, steered by Parks with a sat-nav sureness of course.
At 28, Parks remains far from the perfect 10 but the controlled manner in which the one-time New South Wales Under-21 directed operations for the land of his Ayrshire grandfather emphasised just how far the Scots have come under Hadden - and the degree to which the former Edinburgh coach has coaxed the absolute best out of the playing resources at his disposal.
Where two seasons ago the Parks passes were going haywire, on Saturday they were on the absolute "m" of the money. The miss-pass that made the opening try for Marcus Di Rollo was impressive enough; the whipped 20-yarder that gifted Dave Callam the second was of the highest order. It neutralised four defenders in a flash.
Parks' tactical kicking was equally impressive, keeping Scotland in absolute charge until they were 28 points clear. There will need to be more of the same, though - and better - if the Glasgow player is to help guide his adopted country to victory against Australia this coming Saturday. "Yeah, there were a few good moments today," Parks said, reflecting on his own performance, "but there are obviously things to work on." Collectively, Parks and his mates need to tighten their defence. After running in four tries in the first 30 minutes, they proceeded to concede as many.
They also suffered significant collateral damage, Johnnie Beattie (with an ankle ligament injury) and Chris Cusiter (with a dislocated left shoulder that will require surgery) both departing on the Murrayfield medical truck. Scotland officials intend to view footage of Viliami Vaki's tackle on Cusiter with a view to a possible citing. It was so late, not to mention vicious, it threatened to knock the Borders scrum-half from Saturday into Sunday.
Scotland: Tries Di Rollo, Callam, Brown, Henderson; Conversions Paterson 4; Penalty Paterson; Drop goal Di Rollo. Pacific Islanders: Tries Caucaunibuca, Ratuvou 2, Leo; Conversion Pisi.
Scotland: C Paterson (capt); S Webster, M Di Rollo (all Edinburgh), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Lamont (Northampton); D Parks (Glasgow), C Cusiter (Borders); G Kerr (Borders), D Hall (Edinburgh), E Murray (Glasgow), N Hines (Perpignan), S Murray, S Taylor (both Edinburgh), K Brown (Borders), J Beattie (Glasgow). Replacements: D Callam (Edinburgh) for Beattie, 7; M Blair (Edinburgh) for Cusiter, 12; R Ford (Borders) for Hall, 58; A Jacobsen (Edinburgh) for Kerr, 58; H Southwell (Edinburgh) for Lamont, 63-64 & for Paterson, 78; A Kellock (Glasgow) for Taylor, 66; P Godman (Edinburgh) for Parks, 73.
Pacific Islanders: N Ligairi (Fiji); L Fa'atau (Samoa), K Ratuvou (Fiji), E Seveali 'i (Samoa), R Caucaunibuca (Fiji); T Pisi (Samoa), M Rauluni (Fiji); T Filise (Tonga), M Schwalger (Samoa), T Taumoepeau (Tonga), S Raiwalui (Fiji, capt), D Leo (Samoa), V Vaki, N Latu, E Taione (all Tonga). Replacements: A Lutui (Tonga) for Schwalger, 30; M Molitika (Tonga) for Vaki, 54; S Sititi (Samoa) for Taione, 54; S Rabeni (Fiji) for Caucaunibuca, 54; J Va'a (Samoa) for Filisi, 66.
Referee: B Lawrence (New Zealand).Reuse content