Flyhalf Finn Russell kicked a late penalty as Scotland held on to edge Australia in Edinburgh on Sunday.
Scotland replacement Ewan Ashman marked his Test debut with a superbly-taken try in the 15-13 win that ended the Wallabies’ five-match winning streak.
Hamish Watson scored the only try of a first half that ended with Scotland 7-3 ahead. Rob Leota hit back for the visitors in the 45th minute when the Wallabies were a man down.
But a see-saw and often scrappy game swung back in Scotland’s favour when substitute hooker Ashman, showing the agility of a wing, dived in at the corner on the hour.
James O’Connor’s penalty nudged Australia 13-12 ahead before Russell responded in kind to put Scotland 15-13 in front with 12 minutes left.
The Scots saw out the game to ensure they went into next weekend’s Murrayfield encounter with world champions South Africa on the back of a hard-fought success.
Scotland, after an error-strewn start by both sides, opened the scoring in the 22nd minute. Russell kicked a penalty for an attacking line-out, a decision vindicated when flanker Watson was driven over for a try.
Following a video review for a possible obstruction veteran French official Romain Poite, in his last Test as a referee, awarded the try and Russell succeeded with a tough conversion.
Australia thought they had scored a try some 14 minutes later when Wallabies captain Michael Hooper forced his way over from a close-range ruck.
But, following another lengthy review, his effort was disallowed for an illegal clear-out by Allan Alaalatoa, with the prop shown a yellow card by Poite.
Despite being down to 14 men, Australia scored next when O’Connor kicked a penalty as Izaia Perese came on for wing Jordan Petaia, who appeared to suffer a leg injury.
The Wallabies, four points behind at half-time, then lost replacement prop Taniela Tupou go off early in the second period for a head injury assessment after a huge collision with Scotland centre Sam Johnson.
Yet with James Slipper moving across to tighthead prop and Australia still a man down, the Wallabies took the lead with a well-worked try, with blindside flanker Leota picking an excellent line off a good carry from Perese.
O’Connor converted and Australia led 10-7.
Moments later, with Australia back to 15 men, Scotland almost had a try only for No. 8 Matt Fagerson to spill the ball in contact yards from the Wallaby line.
Russell, however, gave Scotland a close range attacking line-out as he took advantage of the new 50-22 rule with a well-judged kick from inside his own half that bounced into touch.
The ball was spread wide only for Australia scrum-half Nic White to make a try-saving tackle on left wing Duhan van der Merwe before Scotland captain Stuart Hogg’s loose pass was intercepted.
But the Wallabies had infringed. Scotland took a scrum from the penalty.
Following the set-piece Ashman dived in at the left corner for an acrobatic try. Russell couldn’t land the difficult conversion but Scotland led 12-10. O’Connor punished Russell’s miss with a 35-metre penalty that made it 13-12 to the Wallabies.
Kurtley Beale was then brought on by Australia coach Davie Rennie, formerly in charge of Scottish club Glasgow, for the veteran utility back’s first cap since the 2019 World Cup. But he could do nothing as Russell kicked Scotland into a two-point lead.
Australia face a quick turnaround as they play England at Twickenham on Saturday.
© Agence France-Presse