EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scotland earned its biggest win over Australia when it thrashed the 14-man Wallabies 53-24 at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The entertaining, 12-try rugby test turned just before halftime when prop Sekope Kepu was sent off for a shoulder charge to the head of flanker Hamish Watson.
Center Tevita Kuridrani had just scored his second try in three minutes for the Wallabies to lead 12-10 from 10-0 down. From the kickoff, Kepu needlessly dived over a ruck at Watson. The red card was an easy decision.
Scotland immediately kicked for an attacking lineout, mauled it, and scrumhalf Ali Price reached out to score for them to regain the lead and go into halftime 17-12 up.
Straight after the interval, the Wallabies went through 20 phases for fullback Kurtley Beale to tie the score. But the defiance was brief.
Scotland scored the next four tries, and went past its previous highest score against Australia, 34 in the controversial one-point loss in the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarterfinals.
The home side would finish with eight tries, and Australia with 13 men after Beale was yellow-carded in the 78th for batting the ball over the in-goal sideline.
To Scotland’s credit, there was no emotional letdown after running New Zealand close last week.
“We said during our camp in St. Andrews,” Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said, “that the challenge facing us over the next 12 months was a huge one, with us playing every team in the top eight apart from South Africa, but if we played at our best we could win all those games.”
Scotland beat Australia in Sydney in June but hadn’t beaten the Wallabies at home since 2009, let alone twice in a year. The chance seemed to diminish when its best player, fullback Stuart Hogg, ruled himself out in the warmup with a reported hip injury. Sean Maitland moved to fullback, and Byron McGuigan into left wing.
McGuigan scored the first try. Australia flyhalf Bernard Foley passed to nobody, McGuigan toed on the ball, the bounce beat defender Reece Hodge, and McGuigan scored as Scotland went 10-0 up.
The Wallabies weren’t fazed. They went through 21 phases, and Kuridrani scooped up and scored off a Foley left-foot grubber. Moments later, Scotland wing Tommy Seymour dropped a pass, Foley counterattacked and passed off the floor to Kuridrani, who has four tries in four tests against the Scots.
Then Kepu became the fifth Australian to be sent off in a test, and the first in four years, and the Wallabies were up against it to contain a Scottish side playing with confidence and belief.
They scored the next four tries to Maitland from a dropped catch by Hodge; to lock Jonny Gray from Will Genia missing an interception bid; to McGuigan again; and to center Huw Jones, after flyhalf Finn Russell fooled the Wallabies by pretending he was going to kick for an attacking lineout. Instead, Russell tapped to himself and threw a long pass to Jones, who slipped opposite Samu Kerevi to score.
Lopeti Timani broke the sequence with a try, a minute after replacing Australia lock Rob Simmons.
But Scotland finished with tries to captain John Barclay, who bumped off Karmichael Hunt, Lukhan Tui and Kuridrani to score between the posts, and replacement hooker Stuart McInally from a lineout drive. They obliterated their previous biggest winning margin over Australia of nine points in 1981.
“There’s definitely something special brewing here,” said McGuigan, who made his debut off the bench last week against the All Blacks.