Last-minute call-up Byron McGuigan scored a try double as Scotland ran up a record 53-24 win over 14-man Australia at Murrayfield.
Michael Cheika was in trouble last weekend for mouthing obscenities during the England game and the Aussie coach must have delved deep into the bumper bag of sweary words yesterday afternoon when a solid if unspectacular Wallaby performance was fatally holed under the water by a red card to Sekope Kepu one minute before the half-time break.
The prop forward aimed his shoulder at Hamish Watson’s head when clearing the Scottish flanker out of a breakdown. If the referee didn’t see it the crowd’s gasp of horror surely alerted the Frenchman to the nefarious deep and Pascal Gauzere didn’t hesitate in reaching for red.
Until that point it had been a intriguing match of variable quality, a brace of tries to Tevita Kuridrani giving the visitors a narrow lead after Byron McGuigan and Finn Russell had put the home side in the driving seat.
After the card it was one way traffic with Scotland running in another seven tries to go with the one they had already scored, Russell converting five in all, the home team dominating every facet of play in what became an embarrassingly one-sided encounter and ended in the highest score for the Scots against any tier one team.
The record loss was a sorry way for veteran Wallaby Stephen Moore to finish his rugby career, the cheer for him when he left the field on the hour tinged with sympathy he probably didn’t want.
If the Scots had been discombobulated by the loss of full-back Stuart Hogg immediately before kick off with an injured hip, they hid it pretty well. Having weathered an early Aussie storm Scotland started to make their presence felt on the field and on the scoreboard. A series of attacks inside the Australian 22 ending when Russell knocked over a simple penalty.
McGuigan only started this match thanks to Hogg’s late withdrawal but the replacement winger scored two Test tries and bagged the man of the match award. His opening score came after 16 minutes when Bernard Foley’s pass went to ground. McGuigan hacked ahead and beat Reece Hodge to the ball despite an unhelpful bounce.
The Namibian born-winger thought he had another just minutes later, the crowd’s cheer suggested he had beaten the covering Will Genia to his own kick, but the TMO thought otherwise.
Instead of McGuigan celebrating twin tries, that fell to Kuridrani. The Wallaby centre has a happy knack of scoring against Scotland and he did it again yesterday, twice, in the space of four minutes.
The first came after Russell missed touch and Scotland withstood wave upon wave of Australian attacks until Foley grubbered the ball behind Scotland’s rush defence with the big centre first to the ball.
Four minutes later Tommy Seymour’s fumble fell kindly for Foley and again much the same happened. The fly-half grubbered behind the Scotland line and Kuridrani beat Sean Maitland to the ball for his second try. The match was finely poised, the Wallabies leading by two, anyone’s game, which is when Kepu suffered a rush of blood to his head and Watson suffered even worse.
One man to the good for 41 minutes of this match, Scotland filled their boots, scoring one try before half-time – a lineout drive finished off by Ali Price – and another six after the break. Kurtley Beale’s score early in the second half had levelled the scores, if only briefly, and Lopeti Timani muscled his way over the line to offer some consolation for the visitors.
Scotland haven’t always displayed that ruthless streak required at this level but they had their foot on the Wallabies’ throat and they duly pressed, with two tries coming in the space of just four minutes.
Maitland utilised turnover ball to go 70 metres up the left flank for the first and then Jamie Bhatti’s fresh legs made the initial break before Jonny Gray delivered the coup de grace a little later.
The Wallabies looked dead on their feet with half an hour still to play but the Scots played at a relentless pace, taking quick tap penalties and quick throws at the sidelines, anything to run the tourists into the Murrayfield turf.
With the visitors expecting a kick to touch, Russell tapped a penalty and Huw Jones stepped out of a tackle to claim touch down number five. Five minutes later McGuigan got his second, and Scotland’s sixth, in the left hand corner.
Timani’s score 12 minutes from time only riled the Scots to ever greater efforts. John Barclay dived between the posts for Scotland’s seventh before, with Beale in the sin bin and the Wallabies down to 13, the big men in blue mauled their way over for Stuart McInally to add to the rout.