Wallabies slump to Scotland loss after Kepu send-off

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies have suffered their biggest ever loss to Scotland, going down 53-24, after playing a half of rugby with just 14 men at Murrayfield.

The countries' last six matches have been decided by six points or less, with the most recent blowout a 2006 44-15 Wallabies win in Edinburgh, but this time it was all one-way traffic and it all went Scotland's way, as Australia conceded its largest score to a Northern Hemisphere side, topping England's 2016 tally of 44.

Australia were desperate to bounce back after a frustrating Twickenham defeat last week, and held the lead three minutes before half-time, before Sekope Kepu was red-carded in the 40th minute.

In the Wallabies’ first send off since 2013, Kepu was marched for a no-arms cleanout on flanker Hamish Watson, leaving the Wallabies in an unenviable situation with a half to play, at the end of a gruelling season.

Australia were back in the contest after two Tevita Kuridrani tries. Photo: Getty ImagesScotland was hit with a blow before the game, with superstar fullback Stuart Hogg injured in the warm up, forcing a backline reshuffle, but that didn't seem to affect them, with elevated winger and man of the match Byron McGuigan scoring a double and Maitland influential as well.

Australia peppered the Scottish line early, and Reece Hodge took a shot at goal, but they couldn’t convert their pressure into points, faced by a dogged Scottish defence.

The Wallabies dispelled their own danger, with Scotland blowing a three on two overlap, with their outside pass failing to stick.

The home side began to take control of proceedings, slipping easily through Wallabies tackles, including Byron McGuigan steamrolling Will Genia, and Finn Russell punished them off the boot in the 14th minute.

Things went from bad to painfully unlucky for the Wallabies, with a sloppy pass pounced on by winger McGuigan, who toed it 45 metres and beat out a desperate Reece Hodge effort to score for Scotland.

Only Will Genia’s hands got in the way of Scotland scoring just two minutes later, with the halfback beating McGuigan to ground the ball in-goal, and Scotland had all the confidence as the momentum turned.

Sekope Kepu was red-carded just before half-time. Photo: Getty ImagesCentre Tevita Kuridrani finally found the line for Australia, after a marathon attacking passage, lasting more than 18 phases, was finished off by a clever Bernard Foley kick that he grasped.

Three minutes later the pair were at it again, Foley keeping the ball rolling forward and handing a perfectly-timed offload into his centre’s hands.

Just like that, Australia’s good work was undone, though, when Kepu was red-carded, Scotland taking the chance to score almost immediately, through scrumhalf Ali Price.

Kurtley Beale took on the Scottish defence and levelled scores in the 43rd minute, but Scotland had an answer for that three minutes later, Sean Maitland finishing after Scotland’s defence collected an over-ambitious Reece Hodge offload just beyond halfway.

Then the flood came - Maitland’s was the first of four Scotland tries in the next 15 minutes, blowing the score out to the biggest margin in six years.

Australia had chances to build pressure but poor execution and being undermanned meant they were on the back foot, the weight of a long year shouldered by the men remaining.

Veteran hooker Stephen Moore was replaced in the 60th minute, his professional career over after 15 years, with the Murrayfield crowd offering the Australian centurion a standing ovation.

Kurtley Beale did his best for Australia. Photo:Getty ImageThe Wallabies had a consolation score in the 69th minute, with replacement Lopeti Timani crashing over, giving them the faintest of hopes of closing the gap, but that was snuffed out by a Scotland try to captain John Barclay.

Beale was punished for a last-gasp attempt to stop a try, deemed to have deliberately knocked the ball into touch, leaving the Wallabies down to 13, and a Scotland penalty gave them a chance for one last score, hooker Stuart McInally going over to break the 50-point mark.

This loss makes Australia's 2017 record a 7-2-5 after 14 Tests, with losses to England, Scotland twice and New Zealand twice.

Australia doesn't play a Test until June next year, when they face Ireland in a three-Test series.

RESULT

Scotland 53

Tries: McGuigan 2, Price, Maitland, Gray, Jones, Barclay, McInally

Cons: Russell 5

Pens: Russell

Australia 24

Tries: Kuridrani 2, Beale

Cons: Foley

Yellow Cards: Beale (78')

Red cards: Kepu (40’)