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Wallabies waltz past gritty Scots
November 09, 2003 05:42 IST
Australia overcame a scrappy start to crush Scotland 33-16 on Saturday and waltz into the 2003 rugby World Cup semi-final, where they are due to clash with neighbours and old rivals New Zealand.
The Scots held the defending champions in the first half to go into the break level at 9-9, but Australia ran away with the match in the second term, scoring three tries to one and winning comfortably in the end.
The Wallabies played well below their best, dropping far too many passes and struggling to win their own lineout ball, but were superb in defence and never looked like conceding a try until the dying seconds.
They looked dangerous in attack, splitting the Scottish defence on a number of occasions, but failed to capitalise on most of their opportunities until the second half.
Outside centre Stirling Mortlock, captain George Gregan, and number eight David Lyons all scored tries in a devastating eighteen-minute burst that put the result beyond doubt, while Elton Flatley landed three conversions and four penalties.
The Scots' lone try came from replacement hooker Rob Russell in the final play of the match. Makeshift flyhalf Chris Paterson booted two penalties, a 48m drop goal, and a conversion.
The Scots, given no real hope of winning the match after scraping into the quarterfinals with a last-gasp win over Fiji, held on grimly in the first half against a wave of Australian attacks to remain on level terms.
Left wing Lote Tuqiri broke twice through the Scottish defence and fullback Mat Rogers also burst the line only to see the ball coughed up in the next phase as the Wallabies squandered their chances.
The Scots succeeded in disrupting the Australian lineout, stealing two balls off the throw and forcing the Wallabies into errors.
Flatley put the Australians ahead three separate times in the first half with penalties, but on each occassion the Scots equalised through Paterson, who was left dazed after being hit in the head by the ball during warm-up.
He, however, showed no ill-effects of the knock as he calmly slotted over two penalties and then a 48m drop goal just before the break to level the scores at 9-9 after a dour first half.
Australia replaced George Smith with Matt Cockbain during the interval to give them an extra lineout jumper and the change had an immediate effect as the Wallabies quicky seized control of the match.
Mortlock, who was called into the side at the expense of Matthew Burke to provide extra thrust out wide, justified his selection when he beat two defenders in a 60m sprint to the line to score the opening try in the 45th minute.
Flatley converted from in front before adding a penalty in the 52nd minute to put his side 10 points in the clear. Then scrumhalf Gregan dived on a loose ball in goal to score in the 59th minute after the impressive openside flanker Phil Waugh and Tuqiri had each broken through.
Lyons, who had also had a strong match, barged his way over in the 63rd minute after picking up from the back of the scrum to give Australia a 33-9 lead.
With the result beyond doubt, Australia's coach Eddie Jones introduced all seven substitutes to the fray.
The Wallabies failed to add to their total but held their line intact until Russell forced his way over in the last minute.
The victory was the 11th successive one for the Aussies in World Cup games.