SYDNEY: Scotland dug deep to pull off a famous 24-19 victory over Australia in a gripping rugby union international in Sydney on Saturday.
The teams scored three tries each but Scotland were 17-12 ahead at half-time and after regaining the lead midway through the second period, they held on gamely for the win.
Fifth-ranked Scotland proved the nemesis of the Wallabies, the world number three, and won again in Australia after a try-less 9-6 victory on their last tour in 2012.
In a tight finish, the Wallabies tried desperately to conjure the converted try needed for victory but the Scottish defence refused to buckle.
“That was a tough Test match, right down to the wire,” said Scotland captain John Barclay.
“For some reason whenever we’ve played each other in the last couple of years it’s been very close. For us it’s nice to end up on the right side of it.”
Scotland have given the Wallabies plenty of trouble in recent years and heading into the Sydney Test had gone down by just one point in their previous two meetings.
The Wallabies were their own worst enemies in a ragged first half, gifting the Scots two tries to trail at half-time as Israel Folau replied with two signature tries, making it four in his last two Tests.
“They’re a scruffy team to play. They get their feet into the rucks, get their hands into the rucks and we couldn’t find our shape well tonight,” said Australia captain Michael Hooper.
“I’m disappointed we couldn’t get over the line... You look at Izzy’s (Folau’s second) try, there’s potential across the whole park for us. It just didn’t click tonight,” he added.
Scotland had the better of the early exchanges and fullback Greig Tonks gave them the lead with a long-range penalty goal.
Australia were sloppy in possession and a poor pass from scrum-half Will Genia to hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau was snapped up by inside-centre Duncan Taylor, who ran over from 30 metres.
Fly-half Finn Russell’s conversion gave the Scots a surprise 10-0 lead after 15 minutes.
But the Wallabies hit back minutes later when Bernard Foley found Folau with a huge gap out wide for the fullback to storm over.
Foley’s conversion narrowed the deficit to 10-7 with 20 minutes gone.
But yet again Scotland feasted on a Wallabies mistake when the influential Russell charged down Genia’s clearing kick to score another gift try.
Russell converted his try and the Scots were threatening an upset at 17-7 after 27 minutes.
The Wallabies answered with a breathtaking second try for Folau, who easily out-jumped Tonks to score off Foley’s pinpoint cross-field kick to the right wing.
That left the Wallabies trailing 17-12 at half-time but they returned with more intent and ripped into the Scots with some ferocious tackling.
Stephen Moore replaced Polota-Nau 10 minutes into the second half and Australia hit the front 19-17 when Genia burrowed over for a try from a ruck on Scotland’s try-line after 57 minutes.
But the Scots roared back with a well-taken try to openside flanker Hamish Watson, after winger Lee Jones leapt over an attempted tackle, as Scotland outnumbered the Australian defence.
Scotland held out the Australian offensive and got a scrum feed when they held up a Wallabies surge deep inside their quarter as the clock ticked down.
Yet another Wallabies opportunity was thrown away when lock Rory Arnold lost the ball in a lineout close to Scotland’s line.--AFP