Scots save face with second half fightback

Scotland 14 Australia 31

Scotland 14 Australia 31

A much-improved second-half display prevented Scotland suffering a rout at the hands of Australia in the opening autumn Test match at Murrayfield.

The Scots were trailing 28-0 at the interval and staring at a potential hammering by the rampant Wallabies.

But Scotland coach Matt Williams introduced Jon Petrie and Hugo Southwell for the second period to produce a far more presentable scoreline against the World Cup runners-up.

Matt Giteau hit four out of four conversions after Stirling Mortlock, Clyde Rathbone (two) and Lote Tuqiri all touched down.

But, after the break, Sean Lamont and Southwell scored a try each – both converted by Chris Paterson – to haul themselves back into the game.

A 61st-minute penalty by Giteau ensured a 17-point advantage for the Wallabies.

The wet conditions proved treacherous through the game, resulting in a few handling errors from the Wallabies who were also being met with some ferocious tackling from the Scots – until the 12th minute when the home defence fell to pieces.

Fly-half Stephen Larkham was fed the ball from a scrum and his inside pass found Rathbone, who burst through Scotland’s backline before drawing full-back Stuart Moffat and supplying the scoring pass to Mortlock.

Giteau converted and Australia stretched their lead in the 19th minute when some neat work from Smith and Jeremy Paul close to the ruck area created space out wide which Chris Latham exploited by sending Rathbone in. Giteau added the extras.

The Wallabies then added a third try with an exquisite move.

Larkham and George Smith were heavily involved before the ball was released out wide where there was a one-man overlap, which Latham exploited by sending Rathbone racing in for his second of the night.

Giteau improved the try and then slotted another two points after Gregan had set-up Tuqiri for a simple five-pointer in the right corner as the Scots’ defence deteriorated into a shambles.

Larkham could have added to the tally but failed to ground the ball properly.

Scotland left the changing room fired up and were rewarded when winger Lamont forced his way through from close range in the 43rd minute after some robust play from his pack.

Paterson was on hand to convert and the Scots ran in a second try when quick hands were rounded off by substitute Southwell with confirmation given by the television match official.

But Giteau gave Australia their winning margin with a 61st-minute penalty.

With two minutes remaining, Wendell Sailor prevented Lamont running on to a Dan Parks’ through-ball to narrow the scoreline further.

However, the Scots can take heart from an excellent display in the second period where captain Gordon Bulloch also played his part in a stirring performance.

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