Scotland Rugby League players, management and supporters are reflecting on the greatest result in their 21-year existence after the incredible 18-all draw with world number one nation, New Zealand, at Workington last night. To give the achievement context, it is 26 years since one of the world’s top three failed to beat opponents from outside that triumvirate in a full international match, Great Britain losing in Papua New Guinea soon after having lost to France.
Last night was also the first time that the fourth seed in the Four Nations has not been beaten by the big three – England, Australia and New Zealand – after 14 previous successive defeats.
“That was a world class performance,” declared coach Steve McCormack. “I was actually disappointed we didn’t win, strange as it sounds. We’ve shown we can match it with the best and I’m incredibly proud of this group of players. We started strongly and kept it going. Danny (Brough) shouldn’t have been playing really. But try stopping him!”
Captain Brough kicked the equalising conversion from wide on the right in the last minute, extending his lead as Scotland’s highest points scorer on the night he joined Andrew Henderson in becoming the most capped internationalist too. Henderson, now coach of London Broncos, was there to see it and joined the post-match party back at the team hotel. Brough – along with centre Kane Linnett and winger Matty Russell – had hardly trained all week due to a heel injury and needed a pain-killing injection to play. He described the achievement as “the biggest in my Scotland career”.
Scotland marked their 50th international match in extraordinary style, clinching their second ever draw – at odds of 250-1 with some bookies – both of them, amazingly, at Workington’s Derwent Park. They drew 30-all with Italy at the World Cup three years ago, and have now played four times at Workington in three years, with two wins and two draws.
The result and performance suggests Scotland are capable of challenging for a semi-final spot at the 2017 World Cup, where they meet New Zealand again in Christchurch in their group, in between games in Cairns against Samoa and Tonga.
On the domestic front, Aberdeen Warriors will represent Scotland in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup again after clinching the Deuchars IPA Scottish Cup title beating Strathmore Silverbacks 44-32 at Montrose.
Photo credit: SWpix.com