Scotland let lead slip as Australia snatch dramatic win at Murrayfield

Australia’s Michael Hooper in action against Scotland (Robert Perry/PA). (PA Wire)
Australia’s Michael Hooper in action against Scotland (Robert Perry/PA). (PA Wire)

Glen Young’s second-half yellow card proved pivotal as Australia came from behind to defeat Scotland 16-15 in a dramatic Autumn Test at BT Murrayfield.

The Scots looked on course for a fourth consecutive victory over the Wallabies when they led 15-6 after a couple of excellent tries from Ollie Smith and Blair Kinghorn.

But the sin-binning of Edinburgh lock Young on his first Murrayfield appearance allowed Australia a much-needed foothold and they managed to turn the game in their favour in the closing quarter.

Kinghorn, playing at number 10 following Gregor Townsend’s contentious decision not to include Finn Russell in the squad, could have won it for Scotland at the end but sent a penalty agonisingly wide.

With the match taking place outside the international window, the Scotland XV was made up entirely of Edinburgh and Glasgow players. Flanker Jamie Ritchie, 26, captained the side for the first time since it was announced last week that he would be replacing Stuart Hogg as skipper.

Australia arrived in Edinburgh under pressure after winning just three of their previous 12 matches, while they had also lost each of their last three meetings with the Scots.

The Wallabies started brightly, threatening the hosts’ try-line on more than one occasion in the opening 10 minutes.

But it was Scotland who made the breakthrough when Glasgow full-back Smith, making his first appearance at Murrayfield too, received a lovely offload from Kinghorn and darted beyond a couple of opponents before planting the ball down left of the posts.

There were audible groans from the home support as Kinghorn spurned his conversion attempt from what appeared to be a perfectly kickable position.

This aberration allowed the Wallabies to reduce the arrears to just two points in the 15th minute when Bernard Foley kicked a penalty from a central position after Ritchie was penalised at the breakdown.

The hosts were forced into a change in the 24th minute as Sam Skinner went off to be replaced by Young.

Scotland should have stretched their lead in the 27th minute when Kinghorn looped a superb pass out to the right for Sione Tuipulotu, but the Glasgow centre dropped the ball just as he looked set to burst over the line.

In the following phase of play, the Scots somehow failed to force their way over the line after a sustained spell of pressure in front of the Australia posts, but the visitors did superbly to hold the ball up.

The Scots were left to rue those moments of profligacy as another Foley penalty from 30 metres out on the stroke of half-time edged Australia in front after Dave Cherry failed to roll away.

But, three minutes after the restart, the Scots got themselves back in front when Kinghorn, under scrutiny as a result of taking Russell’s place, seized on a loose ball in his own half, kicked it in behind the Wallabies defence and raced on to it himself before kicking it forward again, collecting it just in front of the line and bounding gleefully over for a magnificent solo touchdown.

This time the Edinburgh number 10 made no mistake with the conversion.

Kinghorn then extended Scotland’s lead to nine points with a penalty in the 54th minute.

The hosts appeared in the ascendancy and ready to put the Wallabies to the sword, but their momentum was halted in the 56th minute when, following a TMO review, Young was sent to the sin-bin for an illegal entry during a promising Scottish attack.

After an hour, amid a raft of substitutions, Jack Dempsey, who won 14 caps for Australia between 2017 and 2019, was introduced for his Scotland debut, the Sydney-born Glasgow flanker able to take advantage of a recent change in World Rugby’s eligibility rules to switch allegiance.

Within seconds, however, the Wallabies made their extra man count when captain James Slipper forced his way over on the right and Foley once again converted, bringing the visitors back to within two points.

Australia got their noses in front in the 70th minute with a Foley penalty.

Scotland had a chance to win it in the last minute, but Kinghorn’s penalty drifted agonisingly wide.