Scots need ‘a miracle’

Legendary Lion Jim Telfer believes Scotland need a miracle if they are to avoid an early exit from the World Cup. [more]

Scots need ‘a miracle’

Legendary Lion Jim Telfer believes Scotland need a miracle if they are to avoid an early exit from the World Cup.

Defeat to Argentina last weekend has left Scotland even more desperate to beat England on Saturday and either claim a try-scoring bonus point or prevent the Auld Enemy from picking up a single point themselves to have any chance whatsoever of reaching the last eight.

And Telfer, who toured twice with the Lions as a player and once as a coach before acting as Sir Ian McGeechan’s right-hand man in South Africa in 1997, feels such a task will be a step to far for Andy Robinson’s men.

“Barring a miracle, Scotland will be on the plane home in a week's time,” Telfer wrote in his column on

“The "Big Top" now moves to Auckland where the long awaited clash with England to see who would top Pool B was supposed to take place. Unfortunately, circumstances have changed.

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“To survive, we have to beat England scoring four tries in the process and by a margin of at least eight points. A very tall order.

“England have not impressed so far but they are getting better. They pose completely different problems to Argentina: their lineout is very efficient, their back row is quick and their back three are as good as any in the tournament. In their last game they used the same tactic as Ireland did against us of holding up players in the tackle so we have been warned.

“There is no doubt that Scotland will be up for the fight. The players let the coaches and the supporters down in Wellington. It's time for them to repay that faith and loyalty.”

Telfer, in the same way as Robinson and most of his Scotland squad have since admitted, felt his countrymen had the game against Argentina in the bag before a vital lapse of concentration and two moments of madness.

But where the ex Scotland skipper did differ from his contemporaries was in suggesting that their failings in the latter stages in Wellington could point to an underlying issue with the Scottish game.

“In about 10 seconds of complete brain stopping inertia, four years of hard work and dedication by management and players went out the window,” was Telfer’s blunt assessment of the manner in which Lucas Amorosino danced through the Scottish defence for Argentina’s winning try.

“It was the last throw of the dice for the Pumas and at least four tacklers had an attempt to stop a very straightforward back move.

“Little margins win games and we had still a chance to gain victory in the last minute when we were encamped on the Argentina line after a great touch finder by Dan Parks and the resulting driving maul. But, when cool heads were required, we panicked.

“Instead of keeping possession and tempting the Argentineans to infringe, we put pressure on ourselves by going for a drop goal too quickly and Parks fluffed the kick.

“But maybe that missed drop goal was symptomatic of how Scotland play when they are in the "red" zone. Too often, it seems, that they go for the easy option instead of going for a try and in the most crucial game for four years that negative tactic came back to bite them.

“We had at least three very good scoring chances in the game and didn't take them. Having watched the Welsh B back division score umpteen tries against Namibia, I keep wondering ‘Could we do the same?’ I don't think so.”

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