Some things are better left unseen.
Fortunately the satellite feed of the Wallabies’ Test against Scotland from Edinburgh was on the blink in the New York pub, The Cricketers Arms (yes, you can get anything you want in the Big Apple) where I watched the game. We could see it, but the picture would scramble every ten seconds or so.
I discovered this is not a bad way to watch an Australia v Scotland rugby union Test with this latest scrap-fest living up to the rivalry’s recent status as a fantastic recruiting tool for rugby league.
First let’s look at the positives. Right, now let’s move on.
No that’s unfair. The Wallabies won 21-15, touching down twice, with Israel Folau startlingly good as usual, and they prevented the opposition from scoring a try for the second Test in a row.
From what I saw, and I admit I might have missed something every ten seconds, it was a gritty victory achieved by a team of leftover bits and pieces after coach Ewen McKenzie fired a rocket at the squad, banning half a dozen players for the game for getting on the drink and staying out late.
The tries were the few snippets of loveliness in a pretty grim 80 minutes; a Quade Cooper inside pass to Folau sent him through a large gap for a first half five pointer and young Chris Feauai-Sautia took advantage of another sharp Cooper pass for an early second half touchdown.
The disgracefully messy turf at Murrayfield ensured open play was difficult and the scrums a plodding farce but that suited the cluey Scots who, courtesy of their smart Australian coach Scott Johnson, knew which buttons to push with the Wallabies.
The Scots were flogged 28-0 by the Springboks in their last outing and comparisons will be made with this Test, but they are erroneous. The South Africans often win games by physically dominating teams and Scotland is perfect fodder in that department. That’s not the Australian game, which is why they’ve had so much trouble with the brave fellas in their previous two excruciatingly awful Tests, both ending in Wallaby defeats.
That looked a distinct possibility again with the Scots coming home with their spinnaker hoisted having stayed in touch courtesy of penalty goals and missed Australian opportunities. Christian Leali’ifano fluffed five shots at goal for the Wallabies ensuring he will be mocked endlessly and possibly swabbed, because it’s likely it’s something he’s ever done before.
Fortunately the Australians had wisely worked out early they needed to play for field position after referee Jaco Peyper made it clear early in the game he was annoyed by their breakdown technique.
But that meant playing without the ball for long periods, as they had in their impressive win over Ireland. Fortunately, the Scots didn’t have the attacking threats to make their possession majority count and the Wallabies – who also pinched four lineouts — were impressively organized as they snuffed out the waves of blue shirts.
The next and final tour challenge for the Wallabies will be the Welsh. Wales is the best team in Europe so it’s a big ask but the end of a very long and arduous year is in sight for the Australians who’ll all be gagging for a drink or the opportunity to get home after midnight.
If they can stay out of the Cardiff boozers, McKenzie should be able to put a team on the field next week that will demonstrate the considerable advances the squad has made on this arduous tour.
Certainly with the attacking mindset both teams usually adopt, it will be the best Test to watch of the entire tour, but not at The Cricketer’s Arms.