The Wallabies couldn’t pull off a third great escape against Scotland in Sydney, falling 24-19 in their second June Test.
An intercept and a charge down gave Scotland their first two tries, with flanker Hamish Watson giving Scotland the ultimate match-winner off a defensive overlap in the 62nd minute.
Those basic errors stuttered the Wallabies’ attacking attempts at the best of times and, at the worst, gave Scotland scoring chances all too easily - even two-try first half hero Israel Folau dropped the ball cold after a long attacking phase in the second.
These were elements that went unpunished against Fiji, but proved costly against Scotland, though the visitors’ infringements kept them in contention.
This week, though, Scotland weren’t going to whittle their possession away without a score, as Fiji did in Melbourne.It was a Wallabies error that gave Scotland their first try, with hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau throwing a desperate pass in the direction of Dane Haylett-Petty, but instead it landed in the hands of Scotland centre Duncan Taylor.
Their first real chance came in the 20th minute, Will Genia wrong-footing Scottish defenders, unloading to Bernard Foley, whose long range pass landed in the hands of Israel Folau, faced with a tunnel of space.
That was all he needed to score his third try in two matches and spark some momentum for the home side, after a scrappy start.
Discipline again put the Wallabies under pressure, with Foley yellow-carded for a shoulder charge on Scottish counterpart Finn Russell.
Where Foley battled in the opening 40, through frustrating errors and inaccurate goal kicking that was ultimately equivalent to the five-point margin, Russell controlled his team well, reinforcing his growing stature around the rugby world, and maybe just showing the Lions what they’re missing.
The Scottish playmaker found himself on the end of Scotland’s second, the Wallabies left to shake their heads and contemplate digging out of a 10-point hole after a Genia box kick was charged down.
Michael Hooper took it upon himself to try and spark some attack, but the captain was caught on his own in the middle of the field and Scotland took the penalty, with Wallabies errors plaguing them.
Folau plucked an absolute screamer off a Bernard Foley cross-field kick just shy of half-time, evocative of the talents that led him into one of his past footballing lives, and put the Wallabies right in touch at the break.
The Wallabies’ lineout was their worst enemy after the break, with two overthrows in the first 10 minutes putting them under pressure, but a 14-phase attacking chain led to a sneak Genia pick-and-go try in the 57th minute.
Scotland snatched it back in the 62nd minute using a right-edge overlap to beat Dane Haylett-Petty and Reece Hodge and put flanker Hamish Watson over.
Karmichael Hunt’s night ended in the 66th minute, after he was involved in a heavy collision, but not before he pushed away medical support to make at least three tackles in a minute.
Parked in their attacking territory as the minutes ticked down, the Wallabies couldn’t penetrate the Scottish pressure, which was immense in the final stages, reflective of a side desperate to finally reverse the ledger.
A lineout deep in attack was dropped in the air by Rory Arnold and as the Wallabies had one final chance to attack, they conceded a breakdown penalty.
They had one last chance to mount an attack after full-time, but ultimately the Scots forced the penalty that ended their Australian misery.
The Wallabies will need to regroup ahead of a final June contest against Italy in Brisbane, while Scotland heads to Fiji.
Tries: Folau 2, Genia
Cons: Foley 2
Yellow Card: Foley (23’)
Tries: Taylor, Russell
Cons: Russell 2
Yellow Card: Wilson (39’)