Scotland continued with their fine recent form when they claimed an historic 24-19 victory over Australia in Sydney on Saturday.
The last five Tests between these sides were decided by six points or less and, as the scoreline suggests, this one was no different with this result being Scotland’s first-ever triumph over the Wallabies in Sydney.
Both sides scored three tries apiece and the game was in the balance until the end although a 61st minute try from Hamish Watson was the difference between the sides.
The visitors held a 17-12 lead at half-time thanks largely to tries from Duncan Taylor and Finn Russell with a brace of five-pointers from Israel Folau keeping the home side in the game.
Scotland took an early lead courtesy of a long range penalty from Greig Tonks in the fifth minute after Scott Higginbotham infringed at a ruck.
The visitors spent the next 10 minutes camped in Australia’s half and were rewarded when Taylor intercepted a Tatafu Polota-Nau pass just outside the home side’s 22 and had an easy run-in for the opening try.
Midway through the half, Will Genia made a telling break inside Scotland’s 22 before offloading to Bernard Foley and he did well to get a long pass out to Israel Folau who glided through a gaping hole in Scotland’s defence before crossing for Australia’s first try.
Five minutes later, Foley was yellow carded for a shoulder charge on Russell and it did not take long for Scotland to benefit from their numerical advantage when Russell charged down an attempted clearance from Genia before regathering and diving over for his side’s second try.
Just before half-time, referee Wayne Barnes sent Ryan Wilson to the sin bin for slowing the ball down cynically at a ruck close to his try-line and the Wallabies made them pay when Folau gathered a pin-point cross-field kick from Foley before diving over for his second try.
The second half was a more measured affair although the Wallabies showed more urgency on attack, they were met by a solid defensive effort from the visitors.
The Wallabies continued to probe at Scotland’s try-line and were eventually rewarded in the 55th minute when Genia barged over from close quarters. Foley added the extras which meant the Wallabies held the lead for the first time with the score at 19-17.
The visitors did not take that lying down and five minutes later, Lee Jones found himself in space down the right-hand touchline. He threw an inside pass to Taylor who did well to draw in Folau before offloading to Watson, who crossed for the match winning try.
The Wallabies tried gallantly to fight back in the final quarter and spent large periods camped inside their opponents’ half during that period but they were kept at bay by a superb defensive effort from the Scots.
AUSTRALIA – 19
Tries: Will Genia (57′) Israel Folau (40′,20′)
Cons: Bernard Foley(21′,58′)
Yellow Card: Foley
SCOTLAND – 24
Tries:Hamish Watson (62′) Finn Russell (27′) Duncan Taylor(15′)
Penalties: Greig Tonks(4′)
Cons: Finn Russell (16′,27′,63′)
Yellow Card: Wilson
Australia: 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
Replacements: 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 (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Matt Scott
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley (England), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)