Rugby: Coach hails character as Wallabies grind out win

Chris Cusiter of Scotland kicks down field during the Scotland v Australia Autumn International Series Match. Photo / Getty Images
Chris Cusiter of Scotland kicks down field during the Scotland v Australia Autumn International Series Match. Photo / Getty Images

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has praised the character of his strike-torn side as they put a tumultuous week behind them to guts out a win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

McKenzie had predicted it would be a massive test of character and one of the side's greatest challenges after he stood down five players for the match for drinking last week in Dublin, and so it turned out.

Australia were forced to make almost twice as many tackles but their defence held firm at crucial moments in the game.

The Wallabies took their limited chances with Quade Cooper setting up tries to Israel Folau and Chris Feauai-Sautia.

The Scots, with big lock Jim Hamilton showing the way in his 50th test, pushed them throughout and had chances in the last five minutes to steal the game as they were urged on by 57,630-strong home crowd.

But in the end the Australian pack stood up to repel two dangerous driving mauls and then skipper Ben Mowen forced a ruck penalty on fulltime.

"It was never in doubt that it was going to be a complicated game," said a proud McKenzie. "It's never been easy to come and play here.

"I thought we did a pretty good job considering all the circumstances and we handled the night all right.

"It was a bit too close. If we would have converted a few of our penalty opportunities it would have made it a little bit easier, but to me it was a performance about character and that shone through in the end."

Folau emphasised his worth with another stand-out display from fullback. He combined brilliantly with five-eighth Cooper to score a try, help set up another and save two.

"To hold them out at the end, when the crowd was really getting behind them, it showed really good character through the side," Mowen said.

"We needed a good reaction from the guys and that was a great feeling at the end to grind out that win."

Australia 21
Scotland 15

- AAP

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