Scotland beaten 21-15 by Australia in final autumn Test
By Colin MoffatBBC Scotland
Scotland (12) 15
Pens: Laidlaw 5
Australia (13) 21
Tries: Folau, Feauai-Sautia
Pens: Leali'ifano 3
Australia ran in two tries as they were made to work hard for an untidy win over Scotland at Murrayfield.
A clinical Israel Folau score put the Wallabies 13-6 up but Greig Laidlaw's four penalties kept Scotland only a point adrift at the interval.
Chris Feauai-Sautia's try stretched Australia's lead, but five missed kicks in all from Christian Leali'ifano kept Scotland in the hunt for victory.
But the hosts, despite a fifth Laidlaw penalty, could not manufacture a try.
They will rue a couple of first-half opportunities, particularly just before half-time when Sean Maitland and Sean Lamont failed to finish off Johnnie Beattie's break, but were unable to really test the visitors' defence after the interval.
Scotland were aiming for a hat-trick of wins against the Wallabies, but both those previous wins,
in 2009 at home
2012 in Australia,
were built on heroic defence and accurate kicking in atrocious conditions.
Andy NicolFormer Scotland captain and BBC Sport expert
"It was a better performance than last week but I think it was a missed opportunity, especially with Leali'ifano missing a lot of kicks for Australia. Scotland just couldn't find that spark or composure to score a try. But Scott Johnson wanted to see what players could stand up to international rugby and he got a few more answers to that, and a few question marks over some people. The bench really made an impact and a number of first-choice players will come back for the Six Nations."
This time, there was no lack of passion and determination but both sides were guilty of some ugly play, with the scrum a mess and penalties galore.
The early signs were not good for the hosts as Scotland surrendered possession straight from kick-off and Jim Hamilton, making his 50th appearance, gave away a daft penalty by taking out Will Genia. Leali'ifano popped over the penalty.
The Scots seemed bewildered by the impressive early line speed from the visitors but dug in bravely to find their bearings.
An infringement at the ruck allowed Laidlaw to level with a straightforward penalty and the home side were soon ahead.
Hamilton rumbled forward from a line-out and a sequence of good recycling had the home fans on their feet in anticipation of a try.
However, the attack was thwarted illegally as the Scots edged towards the line, allowing Laidlaw to slot another penalty.
Leali'ifano and Duncan Weir both came up short with long-range penalty attempts, the latter award given when Quade Cooper crashed into his cousin Sean Maitland long after the full-back had sent away a clearing kick.
Leali'ifano found his range to level with a penalty on 23 minutes as the whirlwind pace showed no sign of abating.
Scotland's line-out malfunctioned badly in last weekend's bruising defeat to South Africa and it was another errant set-piece that led to the game's first try.
Official match stats
Scrums won (lost)
Line-outs won (lost)
Rucks won (lost)
Tackles made (missed)
(provided by Opta)
Australia nicked the ball in the air and moved the ball to Cooper, who found Folau with a cute inside pass, leaving the powerful full-back to hand-off a despairing lunge from prop Ryan Grant as he powered through to score.
Leali'ifano added the extras but Scottish heads did not go down and Laidlaw kept a cool head to send two more penalties sailing between the posts after some cynical spoiling.
The first half came to a close with Scotland charging forward again as Beattie broke away to release Maitland, who weaved his way past an opponent to make 30 metres.
Opting not to go for the line himself, Maitland's pass checked the run of Lamont, allowing the outstanding Folau the chance to made a vital last-ditch tackle in the corner.
Australia made a formidable start on the resumption, with Folau and Leali'ifano combining to slice deep into Scotland territory.
And a second try arrived when the Scottish defence was suddenly vastly outnumbered, with Feauai-Sautia evaded a sliding tackle from Maitland to get back on his feet and stretch over.
Leali'ifano miscued a tricky conversion before Scotland benefited from more ill-discipline from the visitors.
Rob Simmons threw a punch at Moray Low, who was holding the Australia lock back, and watched to the sin-bin as Laidlaw knocked over his fifth penalty to move Scotland within three points.
But despite their numerical advantage and the backing of an invigorated Murrayfield crowd, the hosts immediately conceded a foolish offside penalty, allowing Leali'ifano to dampen the mood with a lovely curling penalty.
Maitland, Laidlaw and Dave Denton all made good ground for Scotland but another stray line-out lost momentum for the Scots and a Laidlaw penalty dipped just under the posts before Leali'ifano struck the outside of an upright with a similar long-range effort.
Sick of being good losers - Johnson
Leali'ifano then missed another much easier penalty to lift home spirits.
Scotland were probing for openings with the ball in hand but were repelled by some big hits, when kicking for touch might have been a smarter option.
And the errors of judgement kept coming, with Leali'ifano's misses creeping up to five after a foolish crossing infringement.
One last charge from the hosts resulted in a line-out inside the 22 but possession was lost and Scotland slipped to a second defeat from their three autumn Tests.
Scott Maitland; Tommy Seymour, Nick De Luca, Duncan Taylor, Sean Lamont; Duncan Weir, Greig Laidlaw; Ryan Grant, Ross Ford, Moray Low, Grant Gilchrist, Jim Hamilton, Johnnie Beattie, Kelly Brown, David Denton
Pat MacArthur, Alasdair Dickinson, Euan Murray, Jonny Gray, Kieran Low, Chris Cusiter, Ruaridh Jackson, Max Evans
Israel Folau; Joe Tomane, Christian Leali'ifano, Mike Harris, Chris Feauai-Sautia; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Sekopi Kepu, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen
Saia Fainga'a, Ben Alexander, Paddy Ryan, Sitaleki Timani, Ben McCalman, Nic White, Nick Phipps, Bernard Foley
Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Pascal Gauzere (France) and Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
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