|Scotland: (12) 12|
|Attempts: Skeldon, penalty try|
|Australia: (0) 14|
|Attempts: Tighten up, Marsters|
|Conversions: Cramer 2|
Scotland suffered their second Rugby World Cup defeat after losing 14-12 to Australia in Whangarei.
Bryan Easson’s side led 12-0 at the break thanks to Lana Skeldon’s score and a penalty try, but Australia turned things around after the break.
Bienne Terita and Ashley Marsters crossed for the Wallaroos, who finished a breathless game with 13 players.
Scotland must beat New Zealand next Saturday to keep their hopes of progressing alive.
Scotland started brightly, led by excellent defensive work from Emma Orr and Molly Wright, and after a penalty in the corner, a powerful maul saw Skeldon dive in for his second try of this World Cup.
Australia struggled to find any rhythm in the opening exchanges. Scrappy starts and an inability to consistently get over the line were direct consequences of Scotland’s defensive discipline.
Sustained pressure on the Australian tryline then saw Scotland extend their lead. Australia’s hooker Adiana Talakai stopped another damaging maul as illegal, and referee Lauren Jenner raced under the posts to award a penalty try before Talakai was also sent to the sin-bin.
A stunning 50m break from Eva Karpani put Australia on the Scotland 22 as the break approached, but Scotland held firm and went into the break with a deserved 12-0 lead.
Jay Tregonning’s side improved early in the second half, led by some great carries from Karpani. However, more stubborn defensive work from Scotland and a series of handling errors kept them scoreless.
However, there is little time left to turn possession and territory into points, and Australia got on the board with an hour to go. Terita strolled into the corner after a series of phases inside the Scotland 22.
Terita was then lucky not to see a yellow card after tackling Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm, and the impressive winger made the most of her break.
He broke a couple of tackles to drive Australia deep into Scottish territory, and on the next play Marsters got a power play. Lori Cramer hit the conversion to put Australia up for the first time.
Australia were reduced to 14 men after Marsters was sent off for a dangerous tackle, then had to play the final stages with just 13 – Talakai saw red after several penalties went Scotland’s way.
Outnumbered, Scotland threw everything at Australia in the closing stages but could not find the score that would have sealed a famous victory.
“It’s pretty tough,” Malcolm said after the game. “From an offensive standpoint we showed a lot more than last week. I’m really happy with the girls’ effort and attitude today. Our defense kept us in the game, but it’s disappointing that we couldn’t finish the job.”
Scotland: Chloe Rollie; Rhona Lloyd, Emma Orr, Lisa Thomson, Hannah Smith, Helen Nelson, Caity Mattinson; Molly Wright, Lana Skeldon, Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell, Sarah Bonar, Rachel Malcolm (Captain), Rachel McLachlan, Jade Konkel.
Replacements: Jodie Rettie, Leah Bartlett, Elliann Clarke, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Mairi McDonald, Sarah Law, Evie Wills, Shona Campbell.
Australia: Lori Cramer; Bienne Terita, Georgina Friedrichs, Sharni Williams, Maya Stewart; Arabella McKenzie, Elizabeth Batibasaga; Liz Patu, Adiana Talakai, Eva Karpani, Sera Naiqama, Atasi Lafai, Emily Chancellor, Shannon Parry (captain), Grace Hamilton.
replacements: Ashley Marsters, Emily Robinson, Bridie O’Gorman, Grace Kemp, Piper Duck, Layne Morgan, Trilleen Pomare, Pauline Piliae-Rasabale.
Judge: Lauren Jenner
Helpers: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Kat Roche
TMO: Jeffrey Lee