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Wallabies produce great escape in Scotland

AAP logoAAP 12/11/2016 Joe Barton

The Wallabies have been accused of lacking match focus by coach Michael Cheika following a heart-stopping victory over Scotland which breathed life into their grand slam bid.

Australia grabbed the lead for the first time in the 76th minute on Saturday when Bernard Foley converted a barnstorming Tevita Kuridrani try.

The 14-man Wallabies - who had replacement forward Will Skelton sin-binned for a brainless yellow card late in the fixture - grimly defended in the dying minutes to cling to a 23-22 victory.

A flawless kicking display from Foley - who slotted five from five for a 13-point haul - also helped save the Wallabies, who looked far less crisp in attack and defence when compared to their tour-opening win over Wales.

Pointing to a sluggish line speed in defence, Cheika said Australia's focus was off from the opening whistle - and didn't surface until after halftime.

"When you come out and don't (have the line speed in defence) I equate that to maybe not having the focus necessary at the right level," Cheika said.

"But we were able to improve that and battle through that and get some parity there (in the second half).

"I don't think (the lack of focus) was there during the week but when it manifests itself in a way that you can see technically and tactically on the field, you've got to acknowledge it.

"That's something we'll be working hard on to make sure we're switched on with from day one next week and right in to Saturday."

Kuridrani was the hero, breaking through on a 25-metre sprint to the tryline after a scrappy passage of play before ignoring the support of Israel Folau and reaching out to score after being tackled inches short.

His try sent the home crowd into a stunned silence - for 75 minutes they'd been on top but ultimately a two-try performance from outside centre Huw Jones went unrewarded.

The victory evoked memories of last year's controversial, last minute World Cup quarter-final in which a Foley penalty goal secured Australia's passage to the semis.

Australia fell behind 10-0 after a horror opening 10 minutes of play in which Scotland skipped away to an early lead and Cheika's lineout general Adam Coleman went off with a knee injury after five minutes.

By the time Coleman returned to the bench on crutches after 22 minutes, the Wallabies had levelled the scores by way of a superb converted try to Reece Hodge and a penalty goal from Foley.

Hodge finished off a terrific backline play which started with a wraparound between Folau and Foley, who put Dane Haylett-Petty into space before offloading to Hodge - who dummied past Scotland No.15 Stuart Hogg and carried a defender over the line.

But Australia's joy was short-lived, and Scotland again claimed a well-deserved advantage when in the 27th minute Jones bagged his second by breaking weak tackles from Kuridrani and Haylett-Petty.

The home side were given a standing ovation from a packed crowd of 65,395 as they went to the sheds leading 17-10 at the main break.

They certainly would've received another one at fulltime, if not for Kuridrani's late heroics.

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