Australia V Scotland
Scotland recorded their first win in Australia in five years to return to fifth in the World Rugby rankings today with a 24-19 victory in Sydney.
In an action-packed match the visitors scored three tries, including a fantastic team score that started inside their own 22, Scotland upheld the traditional nail-biting finish with the Wallabies before securing the well-deserved win.
The historic highest ever World Rankings for the Scots was matched on the pitch when Ross Ford came on to equal Chris Paterson’s record of 109 caps in the 47th minute.
From the sweltering heat of Singapore to the winter cool of Sydney Scotland’s summer test series reached the halfway point at the Allianz Stadium.
One point separated the teams on their previous two meetings and Scotland fielded a team with eight changes from the Italy match last weekend in a bid to stop a fourth straight defeat to Australia.
Scotland got off to a positive start with an early Greig Tonks long range penalty and then on 16 minutes Duncan Taylor pounced on a loose pass from scrum-half Will Genia in the Australian backline and run in unopposed to score, which Russell converted for a 10-0 lead.
The advantage was only briefly held as the hosts scored from their next attack.
After conceding penalties in quick succession Scotland were defending a driving maul five metres out. Genia spun the ball wide for full-back Israel Folau to burst through stretched defence to score. Foley converted (7-10).
Australia exerted more pressure from the restart and yet it led to Scotland’s second try.
A quick 22 drop out lead to a Russell break and as he kicked ahead he was body-checked by opposite number Bernard Foley. Referee Wayne Barnes gave Foley a yellow card and Scotland had an attacking position in the Australian 22 with an attacking lineout.
A knock-on by Scotland at the lineout gave the Australian’s a scrum but, when Genia stood out wide from the base to clear, his kick was tipped into the air by Finn Russell, who caught it and ran behind the posts to score.
He converted to restore the 10-point lead on the half hour (7-17).
As the first half came to a close Scotland came under sustained pressure from the home side, especially when Foley returned from the sin bin on 33 minutes. Australia showed their intent by declining several kickable penalties and opting for kicks to touch and attacking lineouts.
It was from one such attack that Ryan Wilson was shown a yellow card on 38 minutes for a deliberate knock-on as he attempted to disrupt an Australian attack inside Scotland’s 22.
From the resulting penalty Foley floated a cross-field kick which Israel Folau took at a near miraculous height to then touchdown and score. A missed conversion made the half time score 12-17.
Half-time: Australia 12-7 Scotland
The second half saw momentum shift regularly as each team conceded penalties, kicked for territory and were rebutted by either firm defence or inaccuracies in the final phases.
Matt Scott came on for Rory Hughes within the first minute of the restart after the Glasgow winger suffered a head knock, which saw Duncan Taylor move out to the wing and Scott slot into the centre.
Just before the hour Will Genia put Australia into the lead for the first time with a snipe at the side of a goal line ruck which Foley converted (19-17).
It was an advantage that was to last less than five minutes as Scotland created a memorable team try.
A lineout on their own 22 was run by Finn Russell with Matt Scott also making ground up to halfway.
The Scots switched play to either wing with fast, flat passes and strong carries by the forwards.
Once inside the Wallabies half Russell drew his marker with a flicked pass out to Duncan Taylor who linked at pace with Alex Dunbar. Greig Tonks then made vital yards before passing back inside to Lee Jones as he took the tackle.
Jones hurdled the resulting bodies as he ran into the opposition 22 before passing inside again to Duncan Taylor who had continued his run.
Taylor drew Folau as he approached the line and fed inside to the supporting Hamish Watson to score.
Russell converted for a 19-24 lead on 62 minutes.
From the restart Scotland stretched Australia again with great handling and support lines but the home side were not done and they mounted a concerted effort in the last quarter.
Scotland defended with accuracy and control however as the arrival of Quade Cooper brought more variety to the Australian attack.
Despite Scotland conceding a penalty with five seconds of the match remaining, as they tried to run down the clock, Alex Dunbar was able to secure a vital turnover to end the game.
Full-time: Australia 19-24 Scotland
Australia: 15. Israel Folau; 14. Dane Haylett-Petty, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Karmichael Hunt, 11. Eto Nabuli; 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Will Genia; 1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Sam Carter, 5. Adam Coleman, 6. Ned Haniganm, 7. Michael Hooper CAPTAIN, 8. Scott Higginbotham. Substitutes: 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; 1. Gordon Reid, 2. Fraser Brown, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. John Barclay CAPTAIN, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Ryan Wilson. Substitutes: 16. Ross Ford on for Brown (47'), 17. Allan Dell on for Reid (54'), 18. Willem Nel on for Fagerson (45'), 19. Tim Swinson on for Toolis (72's), 20. Josh Strauss on for Wilson (57'), 21. Henry Pyrgos on for Price (64'), 22. Ruaridh Jackson, 23. Matt Scott on for Hughes (41').