Scotland 15-16 Australia: Kinghorn misses a late kick as the Scots fall short

Scotland 15-16 Australia: Kinghorn misses a late kick as the Scots fall short

Blair Kinghorn
Blair Kinghorn’s late kick drifted wide as Scotland fell short
Scotland: (5) 15
Samples: Smith, Kinghorn Pens: Kingshorn Cons: Kingshorn
Australia: (6) 16
Samples: Slipper Pens: Foley (3) Cons: Foley

Scotland fell to defeat in their opening game of the Autumn Nations Series against Australia when Blair Kinghorn missed a penalty to win.

Ollie Smith crossed the try line for Scotland on his second appearance, but Bernard Foley fired the Wallabies into a 6-5 half-time lead.

Kinghorn’s converted try and penalty put the Scots up 15-6, although James Slipper’s touchdown and five more points from Foley turned the game in favor of the visitors.

A last-minute penalty would have given victory to the Scots, but Kinghorn couldn’t find the target.

The Scots face Fiji next weekend, while Australia face France in Paris.

The build-up to this autumn’s series was dominated by a pair of massive calls from Gregor Townsend – one to drop Finn Russell from his squad completely, the other to strip Stuart Hogg of the captaincy and hand it to Jamie Ritchie.

Russell and Hogg were unavailable for this one anyway, with only Scottish-based players available for Townsend with the game outside the specified Test window.

Australia’s quest for consistency has been as vexing for Dave Rennie as it has been for Townsend and Scotland, but the Wallabies started here on the front foot.

The home team’s first foray into enemy territory was immediately rewarded with the opening try. A beautifully executed back move ended with Kinghorn delaying the pass to perfection to put Smith through a gap, and while the young fullback might have used the two-man overlap beyond him, he justified the decision to go it alone by dancing his way to the tryline.

Foley, the man who broke Scottish hearts with a late penalty in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final, tapped over a penalty in reply to make it 5-3.

Australia won the territory battle in the opening quarter, only for their progress to be halted by the expertise of Ritchie and his teammates at the breakdown. Four times the Wallabies were turned over just as they worked their way into the Scottish 22.

The Scots gave up a very kickable three point and went to the corner in search of more and they should have when the Kinghorn’s sent a beautiful long miss pass to Sione Tuipilotu but with the try line at his mercy the Glasgow center slipped. the ball, and the chance, slips from his grasp. Moments later, Glen Young was held up over the line as the Scots pressed for another try.

At the other end, Andrew Kellaway broke forward and looked to win the race to the loose ball as it bubbled towards the Scottish line, but Smith was alive to the danger to sweep up.

Foley hit again from the tee at half-time to push the Wallabies one point ahead at half-time.

It was a strangely subdued atmosphere inside Murrayfield, but the crowd were brought to their feet as Scotland went ahead early in the second half.

A big hit from Mark Bennett in midfield saw the ball loose. Kinghorn broke forward, showing blazing pace to outrun the covering defense and superb football skills to push the ball forward to collect and score.

Kinghorn scores try
Blair Kinghorn crossed for a scintillating try early in the second half

So much focus has fallen on Kinghorn going into this series following Russell’s shock omission, and there were signs here that he is shedding his ‘L’ plates as an international No.10.

Kinghorn tapped over a penalty to extend their lead to 15-6 and it almost got better as a break from Duhan van der Merwe took the Scots to the brink of the Australia line but Grant Gilchrist spilled the ball as he looked to hit his long above. In the same section of the game, Young was sin-binned for an illegal clear out which gave the visitors encouragement.

On the hour mark we saw the introduction of Jack Dempsey for his Scotland debut. A recent change to eligibility rules means the Glasgow number eight is eligible to switch countries despite previously winning 14 caps for his native Australia.

It must have been a strange feeling for Dempsey to take his Scotland bow against his countrymen, but his mind would have shifted into gear pretty quickly as no sooner was Dempsey on the pitch than his old teammates crossed the whitewash, a period of sustained pressure ending of when Captain Slipper plunged over.

Still, the match struggled to get going. After 70 minutes the penalty count had hit 26 – 14 of them against Scotland, the last of which Foley fired over to put the Wallabies ahead.

Scotland had to find something now and a period of pressure led to a penalty 45m out.

Perhaps it was fate that dictated that this game would come down to Kinghorn, given the focus on him in the build-up and his influence on the game itself. But as his big moment arrived with the clock ticking towards the 80-minute mark, the fly-half fluffed his lines and dragged his shot wide of the posts.

And with that, the game was gone. A game Scotland could have won but didn’t. Test rugby can sometimes be a brutal one.

Scotland: Ollie Smith, Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Blair Kinghorn, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie (captain), Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, WP Nel, Glen Young, Jack Dempsey, George Horne, Ross Thompson, Damien Hoyland.

Australia: Banks, Kellaway, Ikitau, Paisami, Wright, Foley, McDermott; Slipper, Porecki, Alaalatoa, Frost, Neville, Holloway, Hooper, Valetini

Subs: Fainga’a, Gibbon, Tupou, Hanigan, Gleeson, White, Lolesio, Campbell

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