14-man Wal­la­bies score late to beat Scot­land 23-22

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Aus­tralia was half­way to a grand slam af­ter beat­ing Scot­land 23-22 from be­hind with five min­utes left in reg­u­la­tion and a man down at Mur­ray­field yes­ter­day.

The Wal­la­bies never led on the score­board un­til the 76th minute, when Bernard Fo­ley con­verted tackle-bust­ing cen­ter Te­vita Kuridrani's try be­side the right post of a thrilling match.

This was their first matchup since their un­for­get­table Rugby World Cup quar­ter­fi­nal a year ago, when Aus­tralia ben­e­fited from a wrongly given penalty, and Fo­ley made the last-minute kick for vic­tory. There was no dis­put­ing the re­sult this time.

Aus­tralia dom­i­nated the sec­ond half, but un­der­mined its des­per­ate ef­fort with poor de­ci­sions against a Scot­land side which brought an en­ergy, in­spi­ra­tion, and game­plan Wales failed to show last week­end.

Aus­tralia was out-scored three tries to two, but Scot­land wilted un­der con­sid­er­able pres­sure - es­pe­cially in the scrums - and Fo­ley was per­fect from the tee, mak­ing all five of his goal­kicks.

Aus­tralia's come­back al­most foundered 11 min­utes from time when re­place­ment lock Will Skel­ton, given his first cap since Au­gust, was sin-binned for a shoul­der charge on coun­ter­part Jonny Gray in a ruck. Ref­eree John Lacey had awarded Aus­tralia a penalty five me­ters from Scot­land's try­line, but re­versed it af­ter a video re­view of Skel­ton's silli­ness.

The Wal­la­bies still man­aged to force penal­ties to pin Scot­land in its own half, and won an at­tack­ing li­ne­out. The ball was freed and Kuridrani, at sec­ond re­ceiver, stepped out­side Peter Horne, slipped op­po­site Huw Jones, and ap­peared to be stopped by Scot­land full­back Stu­art Hogg, but spun and fully stretched out to plant the ball on the line.

A rau­cous Mur­ray­field, not quite sold out but fea­tur­ing a record crowd of 65,295 for an Aus­tralia match, fi­nally went silent, and Fo­ley made the match-win­ning con­ver­sion.

"Bit too close for com­fort," Aus­tralia cap­tain Stephen Moore said. "Just for­tu­nate we came out on the good side."

The Wal­la­bies play France next week­end, then pick up their bid for a sec­ond ever grand slam against Ire­land on Nov. 26, fin­ish­ing with Eng­land on Dec. 3.

Scot­land raced to 10-0, its first try start­ing 55 me­ters out. Off li­ne­out ball, fly­half Finn Rus­sell chipped, and the bounce beat Aus­tralia full­back Is­rael Fo­lau, but not Jones, who scam­pered away un­touched.

Aus­tralia was quick to re­ply with a won­der­ful set-piece move. Fo­ley looped around Fo­lau, the Scot­tish backs hes­i­tated, and winger Dane Haylet­tPetty off­loaded to burst­ing in­side cen­ter Reece Hodge, who was too close to the line to be de­nied.

Jones in­ter­cepted Wal­la­bies scrumhalf Will Ge­nia to save a cer­tain try, and while Fo­ley's sec­ond goal­kick evened the score­line, Jones stepped Kuridrani and scored to help Scot­land go into the break 17-10 up.

The Wal­la­bies com­mit­ted 10 turnovers against Scot­land's su­perb de­fence in the half, but they kept at it, even af­ter Gray bulled his way over in the 48th. Laid­law's con­ver­sion hit the post, and Scot­land led 22-13.

Aus­tralia, giv­ing away only two penal­ties in the sec­ond half, pro­ceeded to blow chance af­ter chance. Fo­lau off­loaded twice when he should have held, and Fo­ley and Hodge twice failed to con­nect at full speed, con­ced­ing knock-ons.

But just when they ap­peared to have blown it, Kuridrani broke the tired Scots.

"Ab­so­lutely heart­bro­ken," Jones said. "We thought we were go­ing to hold on there."

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