Rugby union: Gregor Townsend delighted as Scotland stun Australia, Ireland pound Japan

Two wins from two matches for the new Scotland coach as tourists edge Wallabies in Sydney with strong defensive display.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend was a happy and proud man after watching his players beat Australia 24-19 in Sydney.

British and Irish Lions call-up Finn Russell signed off from Scotland duties with 11 points from a try and three conversions, as Duncan Taylor and Hamish Watson also touched down.

Israel Folau crossed over for a brace of first-half tries for the hosts, with Bernard Foley’s conversion making it 17-12 at the break as they recovered from being 10-0 down. Will Genia scored Australia’s third midway through the second half but the visitors held on for the win.

It was Scotland’s second successive triumph over the Wallabies Down Under, following a victory in Newcastle in 2012.

“The last 15 minutes are fresh in the mind and they required huge effort because the Wallabies had a lot of possession,” Townsend said.

“You could see their line break when we were only five points up in our 22 with the crowd behind them. The effort to get back on the ball, and Alex Dunbar managing to get the turnover, it was fantastic.

“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.”

The resolute defending at the end encouraged Townsend, who felt his team have learnt from narrow defeats to Australia on the previous two occasions the teams have met, including the 2015 World Cup quarter-final.

“A lot is about what happens when you have not got the ball,” he added.

“They made the right decision to drive the line out and keep possession in that last minute but it was a great bit of play from the Australian defence to get a turnover, then it was great play from us to get it back.”

Captain John Barclay admitted the final minutes were equally nerve-wracking on the field.

“It was a bit tense at the end but the work that had gone in prior to that is what won the game,” he said.

“They play a fast game, that is as fast as I can remember playing in. The fact that we managed to slow the ball down helped. The boys put everything out there, which is all you can ask.

“It will give us confidence, the fact is that we have come out the wrong side of a couple of these over the last few years. It is nice to close out one. The Six Nations we closed out a couple of really important results in the Wales and Ireland games, which shows we are getting better at closing out games.”

Australia head coach Michael Cheika was full of praise for Scotland.

“We think they are a top team,” he said.

“We have had big contests in the past, they are a well-coached team, and they have had some big results in the Six Nations. We knew what we were in for and got exactly what we expected.”

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Ireland scored seven tries to overpower Japan 50-22 on Saturday in a Test featuring two teams that will meet in the group stage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Keith Earls scored Ireland’s first try in the 11th minute and, with Heiichiro Ito sent to the sin bin in the 24th minute, the visitors added 21 points from two tries by Dan Leavy and another by Jack Conan for a 31-3 lead at half time.

Ireland was missing 11 players who are involved in the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, and was using the Test to give younger players international experience. The two teams play again on June 24 in Tokyo.

“We’re very happy with the way we started and Japan probably didn’t show how well they can play,” said Ireland captain Rhys Ruddock. “But they finished strongly and for next week we’ll have to be a lot better. We’ll have to tighten up our defence and play a bit better kicking game as well.”

Ireland kept the pressure on after the break with Conan crossing for this second try, converted by Paddy Jackson, for a 38-3 lead.

Andrew Conway was sent off for a high tackle in the 51st minute, and Ryuji Noguchi crossed over for Japan’s first try on the hour mark to cut the lead to 38-10.

Garry Ringrose and Earls added late tries before Kenki Fukuoka and Yutaka Nagare crossed to give the hosts a boost heading into the next Test.

“It’s very disappointing,” Japan captain Shota Horie said. “Our attacking in the breakdown area needs to be better. They play a very physical game so we need to be more physical next time.”

Yu Tamura kicked a penalty for Japan’s only points of the first half.

Japan was missing Harumichi Tatekawa, Akihito Yamada, Yu Chinen and 98-Test veteran Hitoshi Ono to injury.

“To beat one of the best teams in the world, you have to execute well, apply yourselves and you need to be desperate,” Japan coach Jamie Joseph said. “We were not desperate enough.”

Jackson kicked five conversions and a penalty, with Rory Scannell adding a late conversion.

The two teams were meeting for the first time in 12 years. Ireland has won their five previous encounters.

The match was played at the Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, one of the venues for the 2019 Rugby World Cup with an attendance of 27,381.

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South Africa clinched a second Test victory and a series win over France with a 37-15 triumph at King’s Park Rugby Stadium yesterday to give another boost to their hopes of putting their miserable 2016 campaign behind them. Jan Serfontein, Siya Kolisi, Coenie Oosthuizen and Elton Jantjies scored tries for South Africa, with Jantjies also adding 17 points with the boot, while Scott Spedding and debutant Damian Penaud went over for the French. The Springbok forwards laid the platform for success as they edged the French in a bruising battle, dominating the breakdowns and proving tenacious in defence. It was a disappointing day for France’s Francois Trinh-Duc, who missed a simple conversion. South Africa, who lost eight of 12 internationals in 2016 in the worst year in their history, were 37-14 winners at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria last week in the first test and now have a 2-0 lead going into the last encounter of the French tour at Ellis Park in Johannesburg next Saturday.

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