Wallabies squeak past Scotland
MATCH REPORT: A late try by centre Tevita Kuridrani helped Australia edge Scotland 23-22 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh on Saturday.
The Scots were leading 22-16 in their opening November international when centre Tevita Kuridrani broke through an attempted tackle from fullback Stuart Hogg to peg their deficit to 22-21, providing Foley with an opportunity to snatch victory with a close range conversion.
The Waratahs outside half duly slotted the ball between the posts, against a backdrop of unsporting boos, as he had done to controversially win the 2015 World Cup quarter-final between the countries at Twickenham, 35-34.
In doing so, Australia kept their Grand Slam tour hopes alive and Scotland were cruelly denied a famous victory that beckoned after two tries from Edinburgh-born Stormers centre Huw Jones, who made a storming first start for Scotland in his home city, and lock Jonny Gray.
"Too close for comfort! We just got there in the end. I'm very proud of the guys digging in there. Lot of respect for the Scots, it's always tight, " Australia captain Stephen Moore said.
Scotland had never beaten one of the southern hemisphere's big three - Australia, New Zealand or South Africa - in the opening match of a November series but they came out of the traps firing in their first Test for five months.
"It's absolutely heartbreaking, we're gutted to lose like that. Our discipline just wasn't good enough," Jones said.
With two minutes on the clock, centre Alex Dunbar made a huge dent in the Wallabies' defence with a diagonal run from midfield. The Edinburgh player was hauled down by Australia fullback Israel Folau but the Scots were awarded a penalty for offside and Greig Laidlaw, Scotland's captain and scrumhalf, kicked them in front, 3-0.
Australia attempted to hit back immediately but their giant tighthead prop Sekope Kepu spilled the ball under tackle with the try-line in sight. Then Scotland struck with the opening try in the eighth minute, flyhalf Finn Russell chipping through for Jones to collect and beat the cover defence with a mazy run to the line.
Greig Laidlaw's conversion gave Scotland a 10-point cushion but they were pegged back to 10-7 in the 13th minute when Australia showed the first glimpse of the cutting edge that carved apart Wales.
It came from a line-out move on their own 10-metre line, lock Rory Arnold claiming possession and Genia and right wing Dane Haylett-Petty coming into the line on the left to feed a scoring pass to the razor-sharp Hodge.
Foley landed the conversion and the Wallabies would have added to their tally had Jones not snaffled a pass from flank Michael Hooper that threatened to furnish Hodge with his second score. Still, in the 23rd minute, Foley nailed his first penalty to level the scores at 10-10.
Not that the momentum remained with the visitors for long. Indeed, Jones made it two debut tries in the 27th minute, taking a feed from Fagerson and skipping through two would-be tacklers to score on the left. Laidlaw converted and Scotland were 17-10 up at the half-time interval.
Foley made in 17-13 with a penalty three minutes into the second half but Scotland hit the Wallabies with a third try in the 48th minute. Though fullback Stuart Hogg was halted on a blindside break by Kuridrani, Jonny Gray barged over from a close range ruck. Laidlaw's attempted conversion hit the near upright but his side were ahead 22-13.
A third penalty success by Foley cut the gap to 22-16 in the 56th minute but a huge defensive effort by the Scots held the Wallabies, who lost replacement lock Will Skelton to a yellow card in the 68th minute, at bay until the 75th minute.
Furnished with possession 10-metres out, Kuridrani had the power to elude Hogg and score the decisive try that Foley converted to deny the Scots.
Man of the match: It was Huw Jones' first start for Scotland and he scored two fantastic tries. He definitely impressed throughout the 80 minutes and deserves the award.
Moment of the match: Tevita Kuridrani's try with five minutes left on the clock.
Villain of the match: Will Skelton with a blatant shoulder/elbow charge on an opponent on the ground.
Tries: Jones 2, J Gray
Cons: Laidlaw 2
Tries: Hodge Kuridrani
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Foley 3
Yellow card: Will Skelton (Australia, 69 - dangerous play, shoulder charge)
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Moray Low, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 John Hardie, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Rory Hughes.
Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 David Pocock, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Will Skelton, 21 Dean Mumm, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Quade Cooper.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Ian Davies (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)