SCRUM Columnist Stephen Brunsdon looks back at how the Scotland backline performed against Australia:
Much of the talk surrounding the Scotland squad for last weekend’s first Autumn Test against Australia focused on the inclusion of the Stormers centre Huw Jones, earning his second cap and first BT Murrayfield appearance.
The backs as a whole unit functioned incredibly effectively against a well-drilled, disciplined Wallaby outfit on Saturday. Had it not been for a Greig Laidlaw conversion banging off the uprights, Scotland would have taken victory.
Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg were at their mercurial bests, with the former showing no signs of the serious head injury he sustained at the back end of last season.
From the very start, Hogg looked a threat with ball in hand and this was no better exemplified by the first Scotland attack straight from the kick-off. His crossfield run fixed enough Australian defenders to give Alex Dunbar an acre of space to run into.
The Glasgow full-back is certainly a leading contender for the starting Lions jersey and another solid performance at BT Murrayfield did his chances no harm.
Wingers Sean Maitland and Tim Visser didn’t get as much ball as they would have liked, but the pair showed intent when they got it.
Visser found space down the blindside of opposite number Dane Haylett-Petty on a number of occasions and his defensive efforts nearly resulted in an interception try in the second half.
Another agonising one point defeat to the Wallabies will be of no comfort to Laidlaw, despite the scrum-half having another cracking game.
Forwards and backs alike fed off quick delivery from the Clermont-bound player and were it not for a cruel conversion miss following Jonny Gray’s try, his post-match emotions may have been less philosophical.
But the man of the moment for many Scotland fans was ultimately Jones. Jones had a superb game, both in attack and defence. His two tries were indeed well-taken but his interception of Michael Hooper’s pass following a bursting run from the back-row stopped a certain try.
Scotland definitely played far better than their summer Tests in Japan, but they lacked the extra bit of spark in attack as well as defence.
Tevita Kuridrani’s try late on – while a man down thanks to Will Skelton’s yellow card – was pressure paying off on a weary side and the final minute search for the winning try proved just a step too far.
They may have lacked composure in that last effort, but if Scotland showed anything, it was that the World Cup quarter-final was no fluke and that they can keep up with the best in the world.
Now for that killer-instinct in the final quarter of matches.
Scotland’s Autumn Tests continue on Saturday against Argentina – ‘Keep It SCRUM’ for the best previews and reaction
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