Scots learning to close out wins

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 07:26

INTERNATIONAL REACTION: Captain John Barclay says Scotland are learning from their agonising defeats and are better equipped at closing out tight Tests after toppling the Wallabies in a famous victory in Australia.

The Scots will climb to fifth in the world rankings from sixth after holding on for a resilient 24-19 win in Sydney on Saturday, spiritedly defending their try-line as the Wallabies laid siege.

It was Scotland's second-straight win in Australia after edging the Wallabies 9-6 in Newcastle in 2012 and comes on the back of two heartbreaking one-point defeats at Murrayfield last year and in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup at Twickenham.

Scotland has now won three of their last six encounters with the Wallabies and will take home the Hopetoun Cup, one of the few trophies that had been remaining in Australia's possession.

Barclay, the 62-capped blindside flank from Llanelli's Scarlets, said Scotland's skills have been underplayed and they were making their presence felt in international rugby.

"It will give us confidence. You cannot deny the fact that we've been on the wrong side of a couple of these against the Aussies for the last couple of years and it was nice to close one out," Barclay told reporters after Saturday's triumph.

"But in this year's Six Nations we closed out a couple of really important games, tight games against Ireland and Wales, so I think we are getting better at closing out games. The important thing is that you learn from the close defeats. 

"Everyone always talks about the Scots being brave but I don't think we speak enough about the skills of the guys have. Look at the tries we're scoring, I think it's brilliant and I think it's underplayed at times."

Scotland matched the Wallabies' three tries and after regaining the lead midway through the second period, they held on gamely for a morale-boosting win.

"It's really a proud day for us all," said coach Gregor Townsend, who has now won his first two games in charge after last week's 34-13 victory over Italy in Singapore.

"For everyone involved in Scottish rugby to blow away those frustrations of the last couple of seasons and come away with such an important win is a credit to the players. If you have to defend 10-15 minutes like that against a brilliant attacking team, then you need strong bones and that's what this team has.

"We knew that it would be really tough, Australia showed a lot what they could do in attack but our width in our defence, the fact that everyone in that 15 were looking to get back and compete for the ball, really helped us to get a place and slow down their ball."

Townsend and Barclay paid tribute to the on-field leadership of 29-capped flyhalf Finn Russell, who later was called up as one of six injury reinforcements for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand.

"I have to say that Finn Russell was outstanding. He leads our attack, but I thought he led our defence really well, the amount of tackles he put in and putting his body on the line," Townsend said.

Barclay added: "I thought the way Finn Russell has changed as a leader and his composure on the pitch breeds confidence to those around him."

Agence France-Presse