Greig Laidla: ‘As soon as we got the penalty I started screaming oh happy days!’
COMETH the hour, cometh Greig Laidlaw. The little Jed man is fast becoming Scotland’s very own version of the basketball player Karl Malone dubbed “the postman” because he always delivers.
In order to seal a famous win Scotland required a penalty with the very last kick of the game and when Laidlaw stepped up to the mark there was little doubt about the outcome.
In conditions that were as bad as anyone could remember the little fly-half scuffed his first penalty of the afternoon, under-estimating the strength of the wind blowing across the field. Having got his sighter off early it was not a mistake he was ever going to repeat.
“As soon as we got the penalty I started screaming, ‘oh happy days!’ Then I remembered that I still had a job to do,” said Laidlaw beaming with the glow of victory. “It’s something I say to myself with pressure kicks, if you hold your technique then they’ll go over and I was delighted to see it fly through the posts. The wind was blustering about all night so it was a tough one.
“As a group, we don’t want to be losing a lot of games and we’re absolutely delighted to get a win, especially in a place like this away from home. ”
“When I saw the conditions I thought that they would suit us better but as a running fly-half they are not my kind of conditions. They only came on during the drive to the game; up until then it had been dry all day, but we’d talked about the rain and, credit to the coaching team, we’d done our homework and prepared for the rain.”
Much focus on the build-up to this match was on Scotland’s reconstituted back division, in tandem with the new attack coach Scott Johnson, so it was ironic that they had next to nothing to do all evening except chase the occasional high kick and make the occasional tackle. Any attempt to play with the ball was abandoned as absurdly optimistic after the opening few minutes.
In Fiji, the conditions are almost certain to be hot, humid and hard so the real test will come in ten days when the Scots take on the islanders who are on a high after beating Japan.
Laidlaw was obviously cock-a-hoop in the aftermath of Scotland’s win but where exactly did the 9-6 Wallaby win rank for him in a season in which he almost took his club to the Heineken Cup final? “Australia on their own patch! I think that’s the first time since 1982 so it’s got to be right up there.”
Scotland captain Ross Ford had no hesitation in handing the ball to match-winner Laidlaw before he kicked the last-gasp penalty. “He has done that all season for us, pressure games, pressure kicks – he nudges them over. I have total confidence in him,” said Ford.
There was clearly a mixture of relief and delight after they showed great discipline in the second half, holding off the Wallabies after they dominated with a stiff breeze at their backs.
“Our tackles and breakdown work was good and we held them out,” Ford added. “We had to stay disciplined and not give away penalties needlessly. We had to trust in the defence and keep it going. It showed in the end that we did manage to break out of our half and into a position where we could attack.
“The boys are over the moon we put in a big shift in defence, they put their bodies on the line. Contrary to popular belief we prefer playing in dry weather. Our boys just stuck in there and stuck to their task. We put ourselves under a lot of pressure but when we finally got the ball we made the most of it. I think it’s phenomenal, a great morale boost for the squad especially against a side like Australia.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North east