Scotland edge Wallabies at Murrayfield
MATCH REPORT: Scotland replacement Ewan Ashman marked his Test debut with a superbly-taken try in a 15-13 win over Australia at Murrayfield on Sunday that ended the Wallabies’ five-match winning streak.
Hamish Watson scored the only try of a first half that ended with Scotland 7-3 ahead.
Rob Leota hit back for the visitors in the 45th minute when the Wallabies were a man down.
But a see-saw and often scrappy game swung back in Scotland’s favour when substitute hooker Ashman, showing the agility of a wing, dived in at the corner on the hour.
James O’Connor’s penalty nudged Australia 13-12 ahead before opposing flyhalf Finn Russell responded in kind to put Scotland 15-13 in front with 12 minutes left.
The Scots saw out the game to ensure they went into next weekend’s Murrayfield encounter with world champions South Africa on the back of a hard-fought success.
Scotland, after an error-strewn start by both sides, opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.
Russell kicked a penalty for an attacking line-out, a decision vindicated when flank Watson was driven over for a try.
Following a video review for a possible obstruction veteran French official Romain Poite, in his last Test as a referee, awarded the try and Russell succeeded with a tough conversion.
Australia thought they had scored a try some 14 minutes later when Wallabies captain Michael Hooper forced his way over from a close-range ruck.
But, following another lengthy review, his effort was disallowed for an illegal clear-out by Allan Alaalatoa, with the prop shown a yellow card by Poite.
Despite being down to 14 men, Australia scored next when O’Connor kicked a penalty as Izaia Perese came on for wing Jordan Petaia, who appeared to suffer a leg injury.
The Wallabies, four points behind at half-time, then lost replacement prop Taniela Tupou who went off early in the second period for a head injury assessment after a huge collision with Scotland centre Sam Johnson.
Yet with James Slipper moving across to tighthead prop and Australia still a man down, the Wallabies took the lead with a well-worked try, with blindside flank Leota picking an excellent line off a good carry from Perese.
O’Connor converted and Australia led 10-7.
Moments later, with Australia back to 15 men, Scotland almost had a try only for No.8 Matt Fagerson to spill the ball in contact yards from the Wallaby line.
Russell, however, gave Scotland a close range attacking line-out as he took advantage of the new 50-22 rule with a well-judged kick from inside his own half that bounced into touch.
The ball was spread wide only for Australia scrumhalf Nic White to make a try-saving tackle on left wing Duhan van der Merwe before Scotland captain Stuart Hogg’s loose pass was intercepted.
But the Wallabies had infringed. Scotland took a scrum from the penalty.
Following the set-piece Ashman dived in at the left corner for an acrobatic try.
Russell couldn’t land the difficult conversion but Scotland led 12-10.
O’Connor punished Russell’s miss with a 35-metre penalty that made it 13-12 to the Wallabies.
Kurtley Beale was then brought on by Australia coach Davie Rennie, formerly in charge of Scottish club Glasgow, for the veteran utility back’s first cap since the 2019 World Cup.
But he could do nothing as Russell kicked Scotland into a two-point lead.
Australia face a quick turnaround as they play England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Man of the match: Australia captain Michael Hooper played out of skin for his team and was close to winning the award. Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell produced some nice touches with the ball and he made some good decisions. However, the award goes to his teammate Hamish Watson, who once again put in a high work rate in all departments on the field. He also scored the first of his team’s two tries,
Tries: Watson, Ashman
Pens: O’Connor 2
Yellow card: Allan Alaalatoa (Australia, 37 – foul play, dangerous cleanout)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Jamie Hodgson, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 George Horne, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Kyle Steyn.
Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Jordan Petaia, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Rob Leota, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Pete Samu. 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Izaia Perese.
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referee: Matthew Carley (England), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
AFP & @rugby365com