Scotland pull off another big win as they stun in-form Australia

Ewan Ashman scored a try on his debut while Hamish Watson also went over

Scotland 15 Australia 13

In the end Murrayfield was rocking. This might not have been a classic - too many mistakes for that, too little continuity - but it had plenty of high points, plenty of tension and drama. And then it had the result. No one should get carried away, however much the sell-out crowd had cause to roar, but here is another important win for Scotland - and this against the number-three side in the world, who lately recorded consecutive victories over the world champions.

Murrayfield has been re-established as a formidable fortress for a while now, but there remains the hint of a fault line in Scotland’s confidence in general, which this win should help them work on. And next those same world champions, South Africa, come calling. What might a win next weekend do for that confidence. Australia will point to the disruption they have suffered, particularly in their back line with the withdrawal from the tour of Quade Cooper and Samu Kerevi. It must be said their back play lacked a certain fluency. If any side were purring in that department, it was Scotland, now brimming with Lions. Perhaps best of all, this was a tight, tight game, of the type the Scotland of a not-so-distant vintage might well have blown. Scotland never quite purred, but they showed enough class and enough nerve to claim a well-deserved win.

That said, on balance, the first half disappointed. Referee Romain Poite, in his final Test, was moved to blow his whistle for a penalty 17 times. The stop-start nature of the contest followed. Scotland certainly tried to play, if anything forcing their favourite policy of bringing their bellwether of a captain, Stuart Hogg, into proceedings at every opportunity - and those around him in the outside channels. Not that such a policy is without merit. Indeed, Scotland’s high point of the early exchanges was a fabulous Hogg break down the left, from which Australia were lucky to escape with just a penalty.


Scotland’s ambition stretched to turning down all shots at goal. The majority of penalties were in their favour, but those in Australia’s half were sent to the corner. The policy paid off early in the second quarter, when a smoothly executed shift drive at a lineout was finished by Hamish Watson. Australia then grew into the game, even if their handling was loose at times. They thought they had equalised, when Michael Hooper scrambled over between the posts, but the preceding clear-out by Allan Alaalatoa fell foul of that dilemma of the modern player - what to do with the arms. Alaalatoa’s brushed the cheek of Matt Fagerson, the Scotland tackler, and Alaalatoa was sent to the sin bin. Try rescinded. James O’Connor, called up for duty at outhalf, had missed an early penalty horribly, but he was afforded another chance just before the break, which he landed from much the same position.

On the board at last, Australia followed up with a try four minutes into the second half, Rob Leota picking a fine line after an attacking scrum to put the Wallabies in the lead. The match came alive, Scotland in particular. Sam Johnson was worked clear on the loop but turned the ball inside to Ali Price, with a Lions winger unmarked outside him. No matter, a 50-22 by Finn Russell set up a platform from which Duhan van der Merwe, that Lions wing, was worked clear. A superb tackle by Nic White felled him, but Scotland were on the front foot now. And Australia were running out in the front row. After a couple of HIAs, James Slipper was forced to switch to tighthead, and the Scots sensed a weakness. They scrummed two penalties. From the second, Ewan Ashman, making his debut as an early replacement at hooker, finished spectacularly in the corner.

Scotland had a two-point lead entering the final quarter. The game became edgy again. Australia did managed to work through the game’s first passage of any significant number of phases, earning a penalty at the end of it, which O’Connor landed to regain the lead with quarter of an hour remaining. It was to that scrum that Scotland turned, earning another penalty, which Russell converted a few minutes later. Australia pressed in the final 10 minutes, but a brilliant turnover and counter saw them back deep into Australia territory, where they were able to play out the final minutes. The crowd were ecstatic - not only with the win, but with the sense that their team continues to grow. – Guardian