Rugby League World Cup: Steve McCormack says victory is one of Scotland's best
Steve McCormack believes Scotland's 26-24 victory over Tonga was one of the best wins in the nation's history.
Last Updated: 31/10/13 12:10pm
New Warrington signing Matty Russell's try, captain Danny Brough's conversion and then Daniel Foster's knock-on with a second to go ensured a Scottish success story that will live long in the memory, perhaps even bettering their 2008 win over Fiji.
Tonga came roaring back in the second half and re-took the lead prior to Russell's second try and Brough's conversion giving Scotland a lead they would not lose a second time.
"Many people didn't give us a chance looking at that Tonga team, who showed glimpses, but we found a way to win. That is up there with the best Scotland have ever had," said McCormack.
"There are certain decisions you can argue with, but some go your way and you can't look at that and say we were lucky. We earned everything we got. Tonga were brilliant for 30 minutes, but we found a way to win.
"We spoke before the game about defending our goal-line sets, restricting offloads and taking care of their playmakers. In the second half they played like they can, but in the last 10 we held firm.
"My heart was in my mouth and I was not sitting comfortably, but we found a way to win. I am very proud to be associated with that."
Man of Steel Brough was McCormack's eyes and ears on the field, with the captain having to make himself heard in front of a biggest Workington crowd in 19 years of 7,630.
"I told the lads not to panic. They (Tonga) were scoring off missed tackles and I had to calm the boys down and tell them to earn the right to have the ball," said Brough, who can look back on a conversion which bounced over off the bar as being crucial.
"We were a little hit and miss at times and it wasn't pretty but World Cup games rarely are.
"You have the best players in the world going at it and it was really important for us to get that win to set the group up."
For Tonga, it was a case of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and then coughing it out again.
They thought they had won it when Foster celebrated with a second on the clock but no try was given, with the half-back judged to have knocked on, despite some suggestions Daniel Addy and Brough had stripped him of the ball.
Coach Charlie Tonga suggested he was more concerned than his skipper about Foster's no-try, but shared the concerns about The Mate Ma'a error count.
"This is a bit of a wake-up call. We now have to regroup and ask the boys to go out and do their best for the rest of the tournament," he said.
"It was mentioned at a coaches meeting that a two-man strip would be a penalty and maybe that is something to look at. But besides that, we can't make excuses for our errors because we started really poorly."