Rugby World Cup: Australia fight back to avoid upset against Scotland, keep quarter-final hopes alive

Even down to 13 players, Australia have avoided the biggest upset of the Rugby World Cup to defeat Scotland 14-12 at Whangārei.

Down 12-0 at halftime, Australia scored 14 unanswered points in the second half, breaking Scottish hearts to take their first victory of the World Cup after falling to defeat against the Black Ferns last week.

Victory keeps the Wallaroos' hopes of reaching the tournament quarter-finals alive, after at one point starting at the prospect of an early exit with two straight defeats.

A try to hooker Lana Skeldon in the opening minutes had Scotland hoping for their first Rugby World Cup victory, before a penalty try before the half-hour mark extended the lead into double figures.

That penalty try also saw Australia reduced to 14, as hooker Adiana Talakai was shown a yellow card for collapsing the maul before Scotland could score.

Down on the scoreboard, Australia hit back in the 59th minute, as winger Bienne Terita went over in the corner after sustained attacking pressure, as the successful conversion from fullback Lori Cramer moved the Wallaroos to within a try of Scotland's score.

And in the final 10 minutes, Australia struck again - this time through replacement hooker Ashley Marsters - to take the lead for the first time thanks to Cramer's boot.

But the drama wasn't done there.

Australia were hit by not one, but two red cards in the final minutes, as Scotland sought an upset.

Fresh from scoring what would prove to be the winner, Marsters was shown a straight red card after contact to the head.

And to make matters worse, Talakai earned herself a second yellow card as the match dragged past the 80-minute mark, as she too committed foul play on defence.

Despite the late calamity though, Australia resisted the final Scottish wave, and sealed victory by the skin of their teeth to avoid their tournament ending early.

Victory sees Australia third in Pool A after two matches, with four points to move level with Wales in second place - and the two sides to meet next week in what could decide who advances to the quarter-finals.

Scotland meanwhile sit bottom with just two points, after suffering two close defeats to open their campaign - before they finish pool play against the Black Ferns in Whangārei next weekend.

Australia 14 (Terita, Marsters tries; Cramer 2 conversions) Scotland 12 (Skeldon, Penalty tries)

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