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Autumn internationals: Scotland effort falls short against Australia
- Scotland recall four to pack
- Hamilton set for milestone
- McKenzie names Australia side
- McKenzie happy with changes
An admirable effort from Scotland was not enough to claim a famous win as Australia hung on for a 21-15 success at Murrayfield.
The hosts were competitive throughout and were in with a chance late on thanks to five penalties from scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, but they could not force an all-important try.
Scotland were ultimately made to pay for two lapses in defence, which allowed Australia backs Israel Folau and Chris Feauai-Sautia to touch down.
Christian Leali'ifano added 11 points with the boot but also missed five penalties and a conversion - enough to keep Scotland in the contest.
Greig Laidlaw struck five penalties himself as the hosts came within a converted score, of an upset but Scott Johnson's team still lack the killer instinct needed to threaten the major nations.
Johnson obviously hoped for a more robust display from his forwards as he made four changes, bringing in Ryan Grant, Grant Gilchrist, Johnnie Beattie and skipper Kelly Brown while also replacing Ruaridh Jackson - the fly-half responsible for two of the Boks' tries - with his Glasgow team-mate Duncan
The game was barely a minute old when wing Leali'ifano kicked the visitors ahead after Jim Hamilton started his 50th game for Scotland by immediately wandering offside.
But the scores were soon level as Laidlaw - who did not even have so much as a look at the posts against the South Africans - slotted over his own penalty.
The Scots failed entirely as an offensive unit last weekend but within the first 10 minutes of this encounter they had proved they were at least a match for the Wallabies, coming up just short of the line following two explosive line breaks by Hamilton before Laidlaw took another easy penalty to put his side
Leali'ifano came up short with his next effort at the posts while Weir did likewise after Wallabies fly-half Quade Cooper was penalised for slamming into his cousin Sean Maitland, playing full-back for the Scots.
Leali'ifano levelled the match once again soon after with another penalty, with the home side forced into an early change as Ross Ford limped off to be replaced by Pat MacArthur.
The Scots knew all about the Wallabies expansive running game but failed to heed the warning as Cooper and Falou combined off a line-out to send the latter sprinting in behind the Scots for the opening score on 27 minutes.
Leali'ifano added the extras but the gap was soon closed to four points as Laidlaw stuck over his third penalty.
The Scots' scrum-half then delighted the Murrayfield support with another successful kick but the noise of that cheer was nothing to match the groan that followed Sean Lamont's failure to get the ball over the line in the corner just before the break.
Scotland went in at the interval just a point behind but were caught cold just three minutes into the second period as another swift exchange saw Australia work it through their back division before Feauai-Sautia held off last-ditch tackles by Maitland and Nick De Luca to score in the corner.
But the good news for Scotland was Leali'ifano missed the conversion and the Wallabies were soon down to 14 men as lock Rob Simmons was sin-binned for aiming a punch at home prop Moray Low.
That act of stupidity saw Laidlaw close the gap with another penalty but Leali'ifano kicked his next attempt from wide on the left to push the Aussiesback into a six-point lead once more.
From that point, however, Leali'ifano's kicking game fell to pieces.
He could have put clear day-light between the teams but missed two simple attempts with the boot.
Brown was caught offside late on but Leali'ifano missed yet again and the hosts sensed the opportunity to grab a shock late winner.
But try as the might, the Dark Blues just did not have the guile or ingenuity to fashion the necessary breakthrough as they slumped to their seventh defeat of 2013.