Flyhalf Bernard Foley kicked 11 points for Australia in a tense 16-15 autumn international victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday as Blair Kinghorn missed a last-minute penalty to claim a win for the home side.
Depleted Scotland had been seeking an unprecedented fourth successive victory over Australia and managed two excellent tries through fullback Ollie Smith and Kinghorn, but the latter pulled his decisive penalty wide when he had the chance to win the game.
Australia have struggled so far in 2022 and were far from perfect but they relied on the boot of Foley to get them ahead in the final 10 minutes. Captain James Slipper crossed for their only try.
Scotland host Fiji next Saturday, while Australia return to their training base in France and will face their hosts in Paris.
“We fought really hard. There were a couple of times we were under the pump,” Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie told Prime Video Sport.
“We had an opportunity to win at the end, but we have to get around Blair. Unfortunately he didn’t make the kick but it’s not his fault. There were earlier opportunities to win it.
“Discipline is something we spoke about. I think in any game you just have to read it. You’re not in control of that, the referee’s in control of that but we probably do need to be a bit cleaner.”
Australia welcomed back Michael Hooper after the flanker took a break from the game earlier this year, but Scotland were without any of their overseas-based players as the fixture fell outside the international window.
The low score might suggest a turgid affair but it was far from it, with both sides seeking to run with ball in hand in a match played at a high tempo.
Scotland grabbed the opening try with some dancing feet from Smith as he ghosted through a gap in the Australia defensive line and side-stepped two more defenders.
Australia saw most of the ball in the first half but were denied by some excellent turnovers from Scotland inside their own 22, though two Foley penalties gave them a 6-5 halftime lead.
Scotland led again following a superb solo effort from Kinghorn, who booted a loose ball forward from inside his own half and showed blistering pace to collect and score the try.
Australia made their numerical supremacy count after a yellow card for Scotland lock Glen Young as Slipper barged his way over from close range, and they took the lead with 10 minutes remaining when Scotland were penalised for being offside and Foley kicked what proved to be the winning three points.
“It was pretty tough to watch that last kick when I heard the crowd going off,” Australia coach Dave Rennie said. “It was a tough game, it could have gone either way. It’s (the win)massive. It gives us a little bit of confidence.”
Scotland handed a first cap to flanker Jack Dempsey, who made 14 appearances for Australia before switching allegiance, while the visitors gave a debut to back Jock Campbell.