Despair for Scotland as Australia snatch victory after Blair Kinghorn misses late penalty
It took a Blair Kinghorn penalty miss at the death to settle this pulsating yet flawed game, but in the end Australia did enough to begin their European tour with victory over Scotland – and their first against Gregor Townsend’s side since 2016.
Without their Premier League stars, Scotland never quite looked in control despite at one stage leading 15-6 in the second half. The boot of Bernard Foley, on Michael Hooper’s first Test since July after a mental health break, led this Australian victory; The loss to Scotland, on Jamie Ritchie’s captaincy debut, gives Gregor Townsend plenty to think about ahead of the challenges of Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina.
With the exception of a 10-minute meltdown in the second half, the Wallabies were more composed and fluid. Australia’s only try came from one of the visitors’ many patient, spirited attacks throughout the game, and Hooper was outstanding – so, too, were Tate McDermott and Nick Frost at scrum-half and lock respectively. However, both Scottish tries came through individual brilliance rather than attacking strategy.
Both Scotland – off the back of a disappointing summer series loss in Argentina – and Australia – who just avoided the Rugby Championship wooden spoon by one point – were desperate for a quick start to the Edinburgh scrum, but it was the Wallabies who started with greater purpose.
Bolstered by the sprightly McDermott and the voracious Frost, it was only a formidable last-ditch Scottish defence, with Ritchie and Hamish Watson at the helm, that prevented an early try for the visitors, whose midfield attack was full of zip and joy.
It was therefore somewhat against the run of play that Scotland took the opening – and in some style. It had been said around the Scottish capital that Glasgow’s Ollie Smith was only deputizing for the stalwart Stuart Hogg at full-back, but with the way the 22-year-old – on his first home start – managed the opening score, Scotland’s most. prolific trial scorer can have a patch on his hands for the starting jersey.
By the time the ball got into Smith’s hands, both Sam Tuipulotu and Kinghorn had conjured up. The center took the ball to the crease before pulling back an almost vertical pass to his fly half who set the ball to Smith. The fullback still had plenty to do but he left McDermott for dead, outpaced the covering Wallabies defense and wrong-footed Tom Banks on the line.