Scotland get sweet revenge for recent heartache with upset 24-19 win over Australia

Scotland have got their sweet revenge by beating the Wallabies for just the third time in almost 35 years with a dogged 24-19 win on Saturday afternoon in Sydney. 

After trailing for the first 57 minutes of the match, the Wallabies hit the lead when Bernard Foley converted a Will Genia try on the back of some unrelenting front-foot play.

Instead of rolling over, Scotland hit back with their third try of the afternoon in the 62nd minute, courtesy of Hamish Watson, to regain a five-point lead.

From there the world's sixth-ranked rugby side – who now sit fourth overall – managed to repel numerous late attacking Wallabies threats to record a victory that will somewhat make up for their one-point heartbreak at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Aside from defeats in 2009 and 2012, Australia's last defeat to Scotland before that came in July 1982. 

"We talk about having good prep weeks and all that but you don't win at training, you win at the game," said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika. "You've got to come to the game with your attitude on. We weren't off completely, we were just behind the pace we needed to set to win the game. 

"We could have won at the end if we got one of those tries or drove over the line." 

Even after the full-time siren sounded Australia charged at Scotland and looked like snaring another miraculous victory but a sensational turnover from the northern hemisphere side – their second in two minutes camped on their own line – sealed the win.

Scotland played with real passion and were hell-bent on reversing the trend of previous fixtures when the Wallabies snatched late, unlikely victories.

"I'm really proud of the effort the players put in," said Scotland coach Gregor Townsend. "The Wallabies had a lot of possession in that last bit. The coaches are really proud of the players but for everybody involved in Scottish rugby to put away those frustrations of the last couple of seasons and come away with such an important win is great." 

Israel Folau scored the first back-to-back double of his career but it was in vain as the Wallabies undid plenty of their good work against Fiji, highlighted by some serious breakdown deficiencies.

"They were able to get into the ruck contest and slow the ball down," Cheika said. "There wasn't a huge amount of drop ball, there was some wayward passes. We didn't have a lot of missed tackles or anything like that. In some of the key moments though you need to have that focus."  

There was a nice touch before the match got underway, with Lachlan Ward's family and Warringah teammates forming a guard of honour to commemorate the death of their loved one who died playing rugby last Saturday.

Cheika is an intense person at the best of times but the fact he took time out of preparations to shake every person's hand on the ground there for Ward was a lovely gesture.

Things didn't start well for Australia when a poor recycle from No.8 Scott Higginbotham resulted in an early penalty to Scotland, who obliged with the first three points.

Just two days after parading in front of an ice statue – to signify that he is the "Iceman" of the Wallabies – Foley did set up two tries but was shown a yellow card in a below-par showing. 

It was the Scots who, after having consistent territory, scored the first five-pointer in the 15th minute after a wayward intercept pass from Tatafu Polota-Nau brought back memories of James Slipper's error in the World Cup quarter-final. 

Genia also made a big blunder when Russell charged his kick down in another moment that cost the Wallabies dearly. 

Despite the loss, Folau continued his excellent form with a try in the 20th minute and then some more magic in the 40th minute. 

With 13 AFL games for Greater Western Sydney under coach Kevin Sheedy, it could be argued Folau never took a better mark than when he leapt over the top of Scotland's hapless fullback Greig Tonks.

"If he's going to catch all of those, you keep kicking it over there I'd say," Cheika said. "He's a class act. He's in a nice vein of form at the moment." 

The loss has brought the Wallabies back to earth and with a clash against Italy next Saturday, this five-point defeat will hardly inspire the broader rugby community ahead of a long Test season.

The Sydney Morning Herald

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