Brave Scots bow out
Scotland bowed out of the Rugby League World Cup but they did beat Fiji for a first ever win in the tournament.
Last Updated: 05/11/08 11:51am
Scotland bowed out of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup in historic fashion as they came from behind to beat Fiji for a first ever win in the tournament.
Steve McCormack's Bravehearts needed an unlikely 28-point victory against the Fijians to usurp them at the top of Pool Two and book a semi-final qualifier with Ireland next Monday.
Jon Steel gave them the perfect start with an early try but Semi Tadulala's score signalled that it would be no easy task to stack up the points against Fiji.
Michael Robertson did send the Scots in 12-4 ahead at half time but when Jason Bukuya crossed early in the second half it all-but ruled out a glory night for Scotland.
Tadulala's second try also looked like keeping up Scotland's record of having never won a Rugby League World Cup game, but they kept plugging away and Oliver Wilkes' late try did at least give McCormack's men the victory.
Scotland made the perfect start at the Bluetongue Stadium as Steel ran in his second try of the competition after just six minutes to give them an early 6-0 lead.
A huge push was needed if Scotland were to achieve the remarkable and hammer Fiji by 28 points, but the scores were almost levelled on 21 minutes when Sevania Koroi barged through and touched down just short of the line.
Bradford winger Tadulala did get over the line four minutes later after a typical flowing Fiji attack, although the conversion was missed and it stayed 6-4.
The action boiled over ten minutes before half time with loose forward Ian Henderson coming off worse in a big punch-up, but referee Leon Williamson kept everyone on the field and just issued a final warning to keep tempers under wraps.
Manly full-back Robertson slid in to get a touch on Danny Brough's kick, as it held up and bobbled around the in-goal area, to send Scotland into the break 12-4 ahead.
Fiji hit beak immediately after the break though as Bukuya powered over the line and, although he was held up by the Scots defence, they attempted to carry him behind the line only for the Fijian to slip down on the ground for the try.
Scotland had a big let-off on the hour as Jone Macilai looked to have scored after Robertson had horribly misjudged a high ball for the big Fijian to slide in under the posts - but the try was ruled out for offside.
As the Scots looked to tire, Fiji did go ahead eight minutes from the end when Tadulala found space on the left to waltz over after a dazzling run up the middle from Jarryd Haynes.
With hopes of making it through well and truly gone, Scotland still fought on for that elusive World Cup win, and they got their chance four minutes from time.
Wilkes took it upon himself from close range as he dived for the line and, when the try was given to level the scores, Brough then kept his nerve to kick the conversion and put Scotland ahead again.
They held out for an 18-16 victory that at least broke their duck in World Cup matches, although it was not enough to stop Fiji winning Pool Two and moving on to face Ireland for a place in the last four.