Scotland 15-16 Australia
Scotland 15 Australia 16
One that got away. Scotland outscored Australia two tries to one but were just not clinical enough in the Wallabies’ red zone and were left to rue missed opportunities at BT Murrayfield this evening.
Australia thus won the Hopetoun Cup for the first time since 2017 after three successive Scotland victories.
Scotland did have a chance to snatch a win in the closing stages but Blair Kinghorn – whose second half try added to Ollie Smith’s early score – pushed a penalty wide. That and his conversion miss of Smith’s try was among the chances Scotland passed up.
But as Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie remarked in his post-match TV interview it would be wrong to point the finger of blame solely at Kinghorn given some of the self-inflicted damage in the first-half.
Scotland great Kenny Logan, who won 70 caps bookended by Australia, delivered the match ball as he continues his recovery prostate cancer.
Scotland under new captain Ritchie, made a rousing entrance and on completion of the anthems, kicked off towards Roseburn Park through Blair Kinghorn.
It was an all-action opening, where Smith’s rolling touchfinder sparked an Australian counter-attack and the Scotland full-back on his BT Murrayfield debut soon was faced by Wallabies scrum-half Tate McDermott chipping over him and then taking contact as Scotland scrambled back to touch down.
A scrum penalty saw Scotland opt for the touchline. From the lineout on the 22 won by Sam Skinner, Sione Tuipulotu made the first tilt and Pierre Schoeman the second. Tuipulotu was involved again and with Mark Bennett the link Smith then jinked and weaved his way to a sumptuous try. Kinghorn missed the conversion (5-0, 11 mins).
Bernard Foley pulled back three points for Australia with a penalty against Schoeman at a breakdown (5-3, 14 mins).
Skinner, fresh from securing a loose ball on the deck, in the wake of a pulverising tackle from Hamish Watson, departed injured with Glen Young introduced for his home Scotland debut.
We were inside the second quarter now and Scotland decided to plump for the touchline rather than kick at goal. Young caught and there were a succession of pick and goes in the shadow of the visitors’ posts before the Wallabies infringed anew.
With the advantage being played, Kinghorn fired a pass off his left hand, but Tuipulotu spilled with the try line beckoning.
Back for the penalty and Scotland went through nine phases of forward grunt only for Young to be then held up over the line.
Would the missed opportunities prove costly? Initially, with Australia on the attack, the omens did not appear good from a Scottish perspective, but Australia could make little impression in the face of tigerish Scottish scramble defence and an alertness around the breakdown.
However, with half-time looming, Dave Cherry was penalised for not rolling away and Foley goaled to give Australia a one-point advantage. (5-6, 40 mins).
Half-time: Scotland 5 Australia 6
During the interval Scottish Rugby expressed condolences to former Scotland stand-off Bryan Gossman who died yesterday aged 71. Earlier, in the 8th minute, appreciation was shown via applause to the late former Scotland Women’s No 8 Siobhan Cattigan who died last year.
Australia restarted but within three minutes Scotland had regained the lead.
Their handling attack broke down in the face of Bennett’s tackle and Kinghorn got boot to ball twice and outpaced the visitors’ defence to gleefully capture a very decent bounce and dot down. It was his ninth try for Scotland, a sixth at BT Murrayfield and was a glorious smash and grab. Kinghorn added the extras (12-6, 45 mins).
From a typical Grant Gilchrist thrust, Kinghorn found a cracking touch on the five-metre line from a penalty.
Gilchrist won the lineout too, but Scotland could not get the ball to deck at the subsequent drive.
Australia cleared from the scrum penalty that came their way, but Cherry pilfered the lineout throw over the top and Scotland attacked with renewed vigour earning another penalty, which Kinghorn landed (15-6, 53 mins).
Duhan Van Der Merwe escaped down the left touchline from Ali Price’s high kick, but the rampaging Gilchrist knocked on and then Scotland lost Young to the sin bin after referee Luke Pearce adjudged him to have made head contact on McDermott.
Van Der Merwe had to shepherd a kick ahead to safety in his own in-goal ,but Australia did grab a try through captain James Slipper in the aftermath. Foley converted (15-13, 61 mins).
Young had returned from his yellow card, but Australia pinched a Scotland lineout and then edged ahead through Foley’s third penalty (15-16, 70 mins).
Scotland could not break the shackles. However, confusion ensued when it seemed that Australian centre Hunter Paisami appeared to have been shown the yellow card by referee Pearce for what looked like a deliberate knock-on. He did however remain on the field, perhaps a TMO intervention?
From Scotland’s subsequent attack off lineout ball Australia were penalised as Taniela Tupou held on at a ruck set up first by Watson and then Tuipulotu.
From 40 metres as the clock entered the final minute Kinghorn miscued pushing the ball to the left of the posts.
And with that the chance of the win was lost.
Full-time: Scotland 15 Australia 16
Famous Grouse Player of the Match: James Slipper (Australia).
Scotland: Ollie Smith (Glasgow Warriors); Darcy Graham, Mark Bennett (both Edinburgh Rugby), Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors), Duhan Van Der Merwe; Blair Kinghorn (both Edinburgh Rugby), Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors); Pierre Schoeman, Dave Cherry (both Edinburgh Rugby), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie CAPTAIN, Hamish Watson (all Edinburgh Rugby) and Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).
Subs: George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) for Cherry (60 mins), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) for Schoeman (60 mins), W P Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) for Zander Fagerson (60 mins), Glen Young (Edinburgh Rugby) for Skinner (24 mins), Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) for Matt Fagerson (60 mins) George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Price (66 mins), Ross Thompson (Glasgow Warriors) and Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby) for Graham (74 mins).
Yellow card: Glen Young (56 mins).
Australia: Tom Banks; Andrew Kellaway, Len Ikitau, Hunter Paisami, Tom Wright; Bernard Foley, Tate McDermott; James Slipper CAPTAIN, David Porecki, Allan Alaalatoa, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Rob Valentini.
Subs: Folau Fainga’a for Porecki (57 mins), Matt Gibbon for Slipper (66 mins), Taniela Tupou for Alaalatoa (40 mins) , Ned Hanigan for Neville 62 mins), Langi Gleeson for Valentin (74 mins), Nic White for McDermott (56 mins), Noah Lolesio for Foley (74 mins), Jock Campbell for Banks (66 mins)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England). Assistant referees: Karl Dickson and Cristophe Ridley (both England). TMO: Stuart Terheege (England).