The Wallabies snapped a three-game losing streak against Scotland to open their spring tour with a nerve-racking and controversial 16-15 win in Edinburgh on Sunday (AEDT).
Scotland five-eighth Blair Kinghorn was left devastated after missing an 80th minute penalty attempt that likely would have won the game for the home side.
While the performance was very scratchy, there could be no questioning Australia’s commitment on Michael Hooper’s return and the much needed victory will catapult the Wallabies from ninth to sixth on the world rankings.
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Scotland scored two tries to Australia’s one – a rare five-pointer to captain James Slipper.
It was the prop’s third try in his 124th Test.
”I don’t score too many so every one is very special to me,” Slipper said.
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“But I’ll take a win over a try any day.”
After a bright start from Australia, Scotland fullback Ollie Smith opened the scoring, stepping inside Tate McDermott and Tom Banks to complete a sharp backline move.
But the Wallabies took a 6-5 lead into halftime thanks to two Bernard Foley penalties as the hosts paid the price for chasing tries instead of taking points.
The 1.95m Kinghorn then ignited the Murrayfield crowd early in the second half when he capitalised on a Bernard Foley blunder, toeing the ball downfield and winning a foot race against Andrew Kellaway.
Scotland were well in control as Kinghorn kicked them 15-6 ahead in the 54th minute before lock Glen Young was controversially shown a yellow card by referee Luke Pearce.
Young’s dangerous cleanout of Wallabies halfback Tate McDermott looked like a clear send off offence yet Pearce downgraded it to yellow because the first contact came from bicep and not shoulder.
“I haven’t seen that written in any law,” Morgan Turinui said on Stan Sport.
“That is a red card. He’s nearly taken Tate McDermott’s head off in a vulnerable position. He came from 30m away. How they’ve talked themselves out of that I’ll never know. He’ll end up getting a six week suspension.”
McDermott had to leave the field for a HIA but the Wallabies did take advantage of the extra man through Slipper’s try after nice short passing from locks Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville.
Foley’s 71st minute penalty put Australia in front, 16-15, but it looked like more heartbreak for Dave Rennie’s men as prop Taniela Tupou gave away a silly breakdown penalty for not supporting his body weight.
“They’re a maddeningly tough team to support, the Wallabies,” Turinui said.
But a nervous Kinghorn dragged the kick wide left and the Wallabies clung on for a morale boosting win ahead of next Sunday’s daunting clash against world No.2 France.
Australia 16 (James Slipper try; Bernard Foley conversion, 3 penalties) Scotland 15 (Ollie Smith, Blair Kinghorn tries; Kinghorn conversion, penalty). HT: 6-5
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