Player ratings: So near, yet so far
OPINION: It was a scrappy game, one that could have ended with either team lifting the Hopetoun Cup.
It all came down to a single kick at goal late on. Blair Kinghorn, filling the shoes left vacant by Finn Russell, had starred throughout the contest, scoring and setting up a try as he ran the show. This would have been a fitting end.
His right boot made contact and the ball sailed high. Most inside Murrayfield erupted in celebration. They thought Kinghorn had made the shot. He hadn’t. It was pulled wide and so Australia ended a run of three consecutive losses to Scotland.
It left the Wallabies kicking off the five-Test European tour with a 16-15 win as the Scots were forced to contemplate a game of missed opportunities and fine margins.
Daniel Gallan rates the Scotland players!
15. Ollie Smith – 8/10
What an introduction to the Scottish crowd. Making his debut on home soil, the 22-year-old was magnificent. Assured under the high ball, solid on defence and measured in attack, he gave excellent cover at full-back. It was his dancing shoes that opened the scoring on twelve minutes, skipping around three Australian defenders and capping off a rare cohesive move. He might have passed to two of his mates but his confidence bore fruit.
14. Darcy Graham – 6
Largely a spectator, he spent much of this game with his arms in the air as he yelped for more ball. When he did get his hands on it he was solid without being spectacular and chased admirably whenever a high kick was hoisted high from the boot. Off on 75 minutes for Damian Hoyland.
13. Mark Bennett – 5
One dimensional in attack but he did contribute to Scotland’s second try when his rush defence put pressure on Bernard Foley and caused the Wallaby No10 to fumble. He made 30 metres, but you would do well to remember any of them.
12. Sione Tuipulotu – 5
A mixed game for the inside centre against the country of his birth. He will rue taking his eye off the ball when a floated pass found him in space out on the right touchline. He began side-stepping even before it reached him which is why he knocked on.
He started the contest by getting skinned on the outside but redeemed himself later, running a great line and then linking with Kinghorn on the wraparound in the build-up to the first try. He was bumped off by James Slipper when the Aussie skipper scored, but there wasn’t much Tuipulotu could have done about it.
11. Duhan van der Merwe – 6
Like most outside backs, he was largely confined to loose bits from broken play and chasing high balls. He did grab hold of one and canter away down the left, almost scoring as he did so, only to be hauled down five metres from the line. Solid in the tackle, he did well to clean up inside his own goal area after a stabbed kick in behind.
10. Blair Kinghorn – 8
It would be a shame if his missed shot at goal late on the piece is the standout memory from this one. Though he failed to boot over what would have been the winning points, he can be proud of his effort. Few would have missed Russell in Edinburgh as Kinghorn dictated the tempo of the game and was the best Scot on the field. His delayed popped pass for Smith’s try was a thing of beauty, sucking in Bernard Foley and creating the space on the left. But his own try was the game’s show-stopping moment. From broken play, he hoofed the ball up the field, cantered after it at a blistering pace, kicked it again, gathered on the bounce and dotted down on the slide. He kicked well from hand but his four missed points from the tee were ultimately decisive.
9. Ali Price – 6
His box kick was his most potent weapon and he also fed Kinghorn well. There were few snipes around the fringe and perhaps could have taken control when Scotland’s forwards were hammering at the line in the first half. Had Price sent the ball out towards his backs, Scotland might have scored. Instead, the ball was held up and Australia cleared from a drop kick. Off after 67 minutes for George Horne.
1. Pierre Schoeman – 6
Started well with an excellent steal on the floor and then won a penalty from the scrum. He gave away an odd penalty of his own when he leapt over Slipper while carrying into contact. A handy performance and helpful around the park in the loose. Off on 60 minutes.
2. David Cherry – 5
It wasn’t a good night for the Scottish lineout and Cherry’s feed could have been neater. He also gave away a penalty that led to Australia taking the lead on half-time and though he wasn’t the only culprit in an ill-disciplined side, his error was noticeable. Off on 60 minutes.
3. Zander Fagerson – 5
Big in the carry and showed some aggression on either side of the ball but with few opportunities to scrum, he was mostly used as a battering ram. Off on 60 minutes.
4. Sam Skinner – 5
A foot injury ended his game before the half-hour mark. He won a turnover under pressure in his own half but also gave away a needless penalty on the ground. Commanded the lineout while he was out there, winning three of them. Off for Glen Young after 24 minutes.
5. Grant Gilchrist – 5
Struggled to exert himself in the lineout as Australia’s improved set-piece gained the upper hand. In his attempt to change this, he gave away a penalty by bringing down the jumper. Handy on defence and was a nuisance throughout. Couldn’t get the Scotland maul working and also fumbled a lineout deep in the second half and missed two tackles. He might have scored a try had he clung on to a stiff pass after making a good run on the angle.
6. Jamie Ritchie – 7
Very good in his first Test captaining his country, especially in the first half as he led from the front, commanding the breakdown as Scotland won five turnovers inside their own 22. Marshalled the defence where he made all seven of his tackle attempts, and was a menace on the floor. His decision to go to the corner with his team 5-3 up in the first half didn’t lead to a try. Had he opted for the posts, he might have ended up on the winning side.
7. Hamish Watson – 7
Like his skipper, Watson was excellent on the ground and off broken play. Made seven carries as Scotland’s back row bossed their area of the park.
8 Matt Fagerson – 6
Ran hard lines and carried with ferocity. One such carry drew in two defenders and drove them back, creating the hole that was later exposed by Kinghorn for the opening score. He did concede two turnovers, though, and will want to tidy up next week. Off for Jack Dempsey on 61 minutes.
16. George Turner – 4
On after 60. Two missed lineout throws proved costly. First, he missed his jumper entirely and then he threw it too low, making it easy for the Australians to disrupt.
17. Jamie Bhatti – 5
On after 60. Contributed around the park. Carried nine times.
18. Willem Nel – 7
On after 60. Won a scrum penalty at the death that gave his team hope. Fittingly part of an entirely new front row, a la the ‘Bomb Squad’ of his native South Africa.
19 Glen Young – 6
On after 25. Entered the scene much earlier than anticipated and had a reasonably good game. Contributed with a steal on the floor and won four lineouts. He was lucky not to see a red card when his bicep made contact with Tate McDermott’s head when the big Scot was cleaning out.
20. Jack Dempsey – 5
On after 60. A 100 per cent tackle success rate for his new country against his old one, with a third of them dominant, he demonstrated his physicality, perhaps in an effort to prove Dave Rennie wrong after the Wallabies coach this week questioned his grunt.
21. George Horne – 5
On after 68. His first contribution was to cause confusion under a high ball from Foley’s boot that eventually found touch. He did his best to add extra zip into the Scottish backline but even he couldn’t instil continuity into a scrappy affair.
23. Damien Hoyland – N/A
On after 75. Barely involved, carried once.