No shortage of confidence in this Scotland squad
However you look at it, results like Saturday’s in Sydney are things of wonder because they are so rare. This one is so memorable partly because of the heartbreakers that had preceded it in the previous two meeting between these doughty opponents.
Twice Scotland had gone into the finale holding a lead; twice they had seen it go. For all the world, this looked like an action replay. Scotland again in front; the Wallabies all over them.
Surely it was just a matter of time before they broke through, Bernard Foley kicked the extra points and there was another chapter in the book of great Scots battling defeats.
There is something different about this side, though. This is not a team to panic. Even when Australia broke the first line of defence, somebody always got back to stop him.
The composure held, even when it looked as though the Scots had thrown it all away when they tried to run down the clock in the final seconds and gave away a penalty instead. They tackled, tackled and tackled until Alex Dunbar, pictured, got into a ruck to win his side a penalty.
It says a lot about the confidence that this win has produced that Gregor Townsend, the head coach, was able to respond to the centre’s heroics by giving him this week off, one of three players to leave the squad, though the only one involved in Saturday’s game. Magnus Bradbury, who got a quarter of a game in Singapore, and Lewis Carmichael, the lock called in from a loan deal with Western Force, are the other two.
Add that Finn Russell and Allan Dell are off on Lions duty and an already weakened squad is going to be even further cut when they take on Fiji this coming weekend.
Is that going to worry them? Not on the evidence of last weekend. Remember, particularly in the backs, this was already a savagely shorn squad.
A back division with a combined total of just 91 caps took on a Wallaby unit that beat them hands down on experience – a total of 234 caps.
The changes in the Australian unit were to bring in the likes of Karmichael Hunt, a player they were desperate to blood after a stellar career in rugby league. The half-backs, Will Genia and Bernard Foley, had 28 caps more than all seven Scots backs.
Yet, they still won. The Wallabies may have self-destructed in the way they conceded the first-half scores but the winning try was perfectly set up and brilliantly finished. If the unsung hopefuls can produce play like that, what can Scottish fans expect when the Lions come back and Huw Jones, Mark Bennett and Sean Maitland, pictured, recover from their injuries?
It is a heady time for Scottish rugby, especially when the Under-20s followed the senior side’s example and squeezed out victory over their Wallaby counterparts. Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Robbie Nairn and others may soon be deserving of places among that elite.
“It’s important we have strength in depth because of injuries and other stuff throughout the season,” said Duncan Taylor.
“We need to have guys who can fill in across the board. The depth we have is really good and will improve when we get guys back. It’s what you want. You want to compete for places. It’s good for Scotland. You don’t ever want to be comfortable because then you’re not moving forward.”
If they can win in Australia with such a weakened side, there are not that many teams they should be worried about.
Is this the start of something special?