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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 06:16 GMT
Scots expose Aussie flaws

By Bryn Palmer
BBC Sport in Brisbane

Australia's Wendell Sailor takes some stopping
Irvine: Sailor is bigger than anything Scotland have

Scotland legend Andy Irvine believes Australia could be "blown apart" by the All Blacks in their World Cup semi-final if the Wallabies' forward woes continue.

Irvine watched the defending champions struggle to assert any authority over a resilient Scottish side before emerging 33-16 victors in Saturday's quarter-final in Brisbane.

And he insists the way the departing Scots dominated Australia in the forward exchanges does not bode well for the hosts' hopes of defending their trophy.

"If they don't improve up front they will be blown apart, because New Zealand will be much more potent in the backs than Scotland," Irvine told this website.

"Scotland won so much ball and, if they had the New Zealand backs playing, they would have won the game quite convincingly.

We won a lot of damn good ball but just didn't have any penetration
Andy Irvine
"Australia will probably improve against the All Blacks because they will go out with a different mental attitude. But I am still pretty confident the All Blacks will win."

Scotland headed for home on Monday after a traumatic campaign ended in quarter-final defeat for the third World Cup in succession.

Irvine, who led the Scots to their last away win over one of the southern hemisphere's "big three" in 1982, believes they cannot hope to compete at the highest level until they unearth backs of genuine pace and power.

"It was a pretty brave performance against Australia because they were expected to be humiliated, so they can go home with their heads held quite high," he said.

"Unfortunately it was the old story. We won a lot of damn good ball but just didn't have any penetration.

"There is a lack of genuine pace and class in our side and that is a worry, because we are not going to win games just by kicking penalties and driving from line-outs.

"When Australia got the ball in the backs, they looked so much more menacing.

Scotland thought they got a moral victory but they should be gutted because they lost
Andy Irvine

"Lote Tuqiri really looked dangerous and Wendell Sailor is much bigger than anything we have. It always took three or four men to stop him.

"We need to find guys who are powerful and quick, and be quite brave and introduce some of our youngsters."

Irvine also believes a change of attitude is required if Scotland are to shake off the "valiant but vanquished" epitaph of another disappointing campaign.

"I think they thought they got a moral victory against Australia because they were expected to be blown apart," he added.

"But that is one of the problems with Scotland. We should be gutted because we lost.

"We didn't play well at the start of the World Cup and were embarrassingly bad against France. But we had a great second half against Fiji and a tremendous first half against Australia.

"If we had managed to put those two 40-minute performances together in the same game, we could have done something."



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