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Scotland beats Australia 24-19 on flanker Hamish Watson try

Associated Press logo Associated Press 17/06/2017
Scotland's Hamish Watson, left, scores a try in front of Australia's Richard Hardwick during their rugby union test match in Sydney, Saturday, June 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft) © The Associated Press Scotland's Hamish Watson, left, scores a try in front of Australia's Richard Hardwick during their rugby union test match in Sydney, Saturday, June 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY — Flanker Hamish Watson's 61st-minute try earned Scotland a rare victory in Australia as it beat the Wallabies 24-19 in a seesawing rugby test match Saturday with both teams scoring three tries each.

Scotland led 17-12 at halftime in the Sydney Football Stadium match despite fullback Israel Folau scoring two first-half tries for the Wallabies, including a leaping acrobatic catch on the tryline in the 40th minute.

Scotland scored all its first-half points on Australia mistakes — an early penalty goal, then an intercept try to center Duncan Taylor and a charge-down try from flyhalf Finn Russell, who later in the day was called up to the British and Irish Lions squad in New Zealand along with teammate Allan Dell.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley set up both Australia tries for Folau either side of a stint in the sin bin for a late hit on Russell.

But despite being a man down with No. 8 Ryan Wilson yellow-carded a minute before halftime, the Scots refused to yield until Australia briefly took the lead.

That came on a Will Genia try and Foley's conversion with just under 20 minutes to play, but its two-point lead lasted just six minutes when Watson scored a 50-meter try and Russell converted.

It helped give the Scots their first win against the Wallabies in Australia since its surprise 9-6 victory in Newcastle in 2012, and its first-ever in Sydney.

Scotland played strong defensively in the final 15 minutes but was also helped by several errant Australian passes which went into touch just as the Wallabies were threatening to score.

The last time the teams met — at the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup — Australia prevailed 35-34 on a contentious last-minute penalty goal by Foley on what Scotland felt was a bad call.

On Saturday, with the Wallabies just meters from Scotland's try line and pushing to level the match, it was penalized by referee Wayne Barnes after the full-time siren had sounded for not releasing the ball.

"I'm really proud of the effort the players put in, the last 15 minutes were fresh in our minds, so it required a lot of effort," Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said, referring to the 2015 loss.

"A lot is about what happens when you have not got the ball. The Wallabies had a lot of possession ... if you have to defend 10 to 15 minutes against a team as brilliant in attack as that, you need strong bonds, and that is what this team has."

Australia coach Michael Cheika said Folau and Australia's newest dual international Karmichael Hunt were the standout performers in an otherwise forgettable performance from the Wallabies.

"It's really about being more urgent to the game, willing the game more. You've got to make it happen because it's not just going to happen for you," Cheika said. "You've got to have guys with that attitude."

Australia beat Fiji 37-14 last weekend to open its 2017 season. The Wallabies play Italy next Saturday in Brisbane, while Scotland takes on Fiji in Suva on the same day.

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