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Greig Laidlaw determined to learn from World Cup heartbreak

Published 08/11/2016

Scotland's Greig Laidlaw is aiming for victory this time against Australia
Scotland's Greig Laidlaw is aiming for victory this time against Australia

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw aims to take inspiration from their ultimately agonising World Cup quarter-final against Australia while blocking out the emotion when they host the Wallabies on Saturday.

The scrum-half has previously stated he would take the pain from the last-gasp 35-34 defeat "to his grave" but he will also remember the positives from their thrilling Twickenham encounter just over 12 months ago.

Laidlaw and his team-mates have previously come face to face with referee Craig Joubert, whose wrongly-awarded 79th-minute penalty handed Australia victory, a nd they now meet their opponents for the first time since that fateful day determined to produce a similar attacking display.

The 31-year-old, who kicked 19 points in the game, said: "It's a motivation, of course it is. When we take the emotion away from the game, it's a game we were in and it's a game we very much could have won.

"If we can use that as a positive, that can help us, because we were in the game for 80 minutes.

"But we understand defensively we probably need to be stronger this time around as well. We gave away five tries on the day, so Australia will probably be thinking they can cause us problems.

"So we need to be real tight in our defence, real tight in our driving maul and our forward play so we are not giving away cheap points."

Vern Cotter's side achieved their expectations at last year's World Cup by reaching the last eight but they then showed they had the potential to break out of the bottom reaches of the RBS 6 Nations table.

Laidlaw said: "When you play teams like Australia, they have good players and are well coached, and when you are in these games, it gives the team real confidence.

"We look back to that and take all the emotion away, we all know what happened in the game, but it wasn't Australia's fault. They were just there to play the game as well.

"It's a game of rugby, it's an important game for us as Scotland and we're delighted to be playing at home in front of our people, and when our studs hit the ground at the weekend we are going out there to meet fire with fire."

Scotland failed to follow up their Twickenham display in the opening games of the Six Nations, losing to England and Wales before bouncing back with triumphs over Italy and Wales.

Cotter and Laidlaw have since discussed modifying their preparations for the autumn Tests, with the players first gathering 13 days before the Australia game and putting more of a rugby focus on their build-up rather than fitness.

"We are in a better place now than we have already been before going into first games in championships," the Gloucester scrum-half said. "In the past we have not played well in those.

"If we look back at the Six Nations, our first game against England was poor. We were only beaten by four or five points in the end but if we had taken two opportunities, it's a game we probably could have won as well.

"We have had a pretty good hit-out to mirror a game. We are excited and we will be ready to go on Saturday."

Australia have already opened their November campaign with an impressive 32-8 victory over Wales after playing six games in the Rugby Championship - also featuring New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina - from August to October.

So Scotland know they have to hit the ground running.

"It's certainly one of the challenges," Laidlaw said. "Australia have played a lot of rugby and had a fantastic result in Wales, they played well.

"I'm sure they will be happy with where they are at but we have to concentrate on ourselves. We can't be worrying too much about what they are going to do.

"If we get our stuff right, we feel as though we've got a strong game plan."

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