Scotland hold on for narrow victory over valiant Wallabies

Sun, 07/11/2021, 04:23 pm
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
It was a tense battle at Murrayfield in Edinburgh

Scotland has held on for a narrow 15-13 win over a sloppy Wallabies at Murrayfield.

After a tense first 20 minutes, it was the reigning Six Nations Player of the Year Hamish Watson who crossed at the back of a 5 metre maul.

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This was compounded as prop Allan Alaalatoa was sin-binned for a high cleanout, denying Michael Hooper a try before the break.

Strong work from Izaia Perese and Rob Leota put the Wallabies back in front but a 69th-minute effort from Finn Russell sealed the win for the hosts.

"We felt if you could play at the right end of the field we could build pressure, we'd get rewarded. We did that initially (in the second half) but we got caught at our end in the last 20 with a lack of discipline and decision making," coach Dave Rennie said after the match.

"...We got penalised in possession a bit when we thought we had them under pressure and we struggled to get our game going.

"They did a great job of defending the maul and I think there was a handful of decisions that we made and the ref that shaped the last 20. We've got to be better disciplined and accurate."

Needing some early points to silence a 67,000+ strong Murrayfield crowd, James O’Connor failed to add an early penalty in a frantic start.

Whilst the visitors had no issue entering the Scots 22, a lack of execution near the line hurt the Wallabies throughout the match, who couldn’t take advantage of perfect field possession.

With both teams unable to break the line, flanker Hamish Watson found his way over at the back of a 5 metre maul to open the scoring after 22 minutes.

Winger Tom Wright looked to have scored in the corner, however, referee Romain Poite pulled it back after ruling a forward pass and a dangerous cleanout by Hunter Paisami.

The Wallabies continued to pile on the pressure and Michael Hooper caught the hosts napping as he darted over.

However, in the turning point of the first half, the TMO pulled the try back, finding a high cleanout from Allan Alaalatoa.

Alaalatoa would be sent for ten as memories of their last encounter in 2017 came back for Wallaby fans, with Sekope Kepu handed a red for a similar incident.

Towards the end of the half, O’Connor made up for his earlier miss as they trailed by four points heading into the sheds.

With Alaalatoa still in the bin, Izaia Perese, who had come on for an injured Jordan Petaia, made an instant impact with his first touch.

Perese broke the defence from the scrum in the 44th minute, finding space to allow a charging Rob Leota to crash over the following phase for the lead.

The Wallabies were hampered by HIA assessments to tight head props Taniela Tupou and Alaalaota as the hosts continued their dominance at scrum time, with Tupou failing to return.

In the end, the barrage of scrum penalties eventually broke a gutsy Wallabies defence as hooker Ewan Ashman dived over in the corner.

Both teams traded penalties for the next ten minutes, with O’Connor’s second of the night answered by Russell four minutes later.

Needing points, some costly errors ultimately haunted the Wallabies, with O'Connor unable to find the line with three minutes on the clock.

This allowed Scotland to hold on to retain the Hopetoun Cup, ending a five-game winning streak for the Wallabies.

SCOTLAND 15

TRIES: Watson, Ashman

CONS: Russell

PENS: Russell

WALLABIES 13

TRIES: Leota

CONS: O'Connor

PENS: O'Connor

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