Scotland produced a gutsy defensive display to secure an impressive 24-19 win over Australia in Sydney on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Finally, Scotland have some semblance of revenge. In the last two meetings between these teams, the Wallabies have snatched thrilling one-point wins, but this time the Scots finally found a way to finish the job.
In the end, there can be no denying that Scotland were fully deserving of this victory, with their courage on defence and ferocious work at the breakdown enabling them to absorb plenty of pressure and come away with a first-ever win in Sydney.
The first half, particularly, proved to be a fascinating affair of varying fortunes, with Scotland throwing Australia off their game through abrasive and organised defence, which ultimately led to both an intercept and charge-down try.
First, centre Duncan Taylor latched on to a loose pass to score in the 15th minute and send the Scots into a 10-point lead, while Finn Russell then charged down a poor Will Genia clearance kick when halfback partner Bernard Foley was spending time in the sin bin.
Yet every time the Scots struck, so Australia found a way to hit back through their magic man Israel Folau. The big fullback ran a beautiful line to score first just before the quarter-hour mark, while he displayed all his aerial skills to brilliantly collect a Foley cross-kick and dot down for a crucial five-pointer right before the break.
The Scots also conceded a yellow card late in the first half when No 8 Ryan Wilson was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements, although Folau’s try would be the only points they conceded in his absence.
The Scots continued to hang on to a five-point advantage after making a strong start to the second half, but when Australia finally managed to string some effective attack together, Genia ultimately sniped over the tryline in the 56th minute.
That score briefly saw the Wallabies move into the lead for the first time in the contest, but momentum continued to ebb and flow, as the Scots then produced a scintillating sequence of interpassing, which eventually enabled flank Hamish Watson to go over unopposed.
The excellent conversion restored Scotland’s five-point lead heading into the final 15 minutes of play, and from there they managed to hold on to seal the win, with a superb late turnover aptly summing up a courageous overall performance.
Wallabies – Tries: Israel Folau (2), Will Genia. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2).
Scotland – Tries: Duncan Taylor, Finn Russell, Hamish Watson. Conversions: Russell (3). Penalty: Greig Tonks.
Wallabies – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Tom Robertson.
Subs: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rory Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Quade Cooper, 23 Reece Hodge.
Scotland – 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid.
Subs: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Matt Scott.
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images