WE already knew that this Scotland side can knock over the likes of Australia if their game-breakers such as Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Darcy Graham get a chance to play to their precocious best – but we weren’t so sure until yesterday about their ability to grind out a result at that level when the game doesn’t open up. 

While it didn’t quite click for either side, it was a compelling contest all the same, which could have gone either way right up until the final play. It took real nerve for the hosts to see it out as professionally as they did.

This is Scotland’s third consecutive win against the Wallabies, who are currently ranked third in the world, and it will be a huge confidence boost going into next Saturday’s match against world champions South Africa. 

That will be a huge challenge, but Australia beat the Springboks in back-to-back matches at the start of September, and Wales gave them a run for their money yesterday, so Gregor Townsend's boys will feel they have nothing to fear. 

There was plenty of intent during the opening quarter, but not quite the accuracy required for either side to really hit their straps. 

There was one moment which roused this first full-house at Murrayfield since before the pandemic when Stuart Hogg somehow found his way through a crowd of gold jerseys to launch an attack up the left touchline, which was carried on by Ali Price and then Duhan van der Merwe. When the big winger was eventually brought down, Australia went off their feet, but Scotland failed to capitalise on that penalty in the danger zone. 

Finally, the deadlock was broken on 22 minutes when Scotland passed up three easy points and went to the corner instead, getting their reward with a Hamish Watson try off a clever move initiated by middle-jumper Jamie Ritchie tapping down to Grant Gilchrist at the front. There was a hold-up as referee Romain Poite and the TMO discussed a possible obstruction, but the on-field decision ultimately stood. 

Australia came back hard but were left frustrated by having two tries chalked off in fairly quick succession. First, winger Tom Wright went over on the left, only for play to be pulled back for an off-the-ball tackle earlier in the passage of play. Then captain Michael Hooper wriggld under the posts, but tight-head Allan Alaalatoa was judged to have caught Matt Fagerson with a swinging arm at the previous ruck. 

To add to the away team's sense of grievance, they were also reduced to 14 men for the next 10 minutes with Alaalatoa being sent to the sin-bin, but they didn't let that distract them, and James O'Connor finally got Australia off the mark on 39 minutes with a well-struck penalty after Matt Fagerson was penalised for going off his feet.  

A massive collision when Sam Johnson carried into Taniela Tupou left the Australian replacement tight-head clearly concussed and he had to be replaced, meaning Australia had two loose-heads at the next scrum, but it stacked up and after a powerful burst through the middle by Izaia Perese, the ball was sent back the way it had come and Rob Leota charged through a gaping hole between Pierre Schoeman and Sam Skinner to score, with O'Connor adding the conversion. 

Scotland looked to bounce back immediately, with Johnson looping round to create an opening on the left and Price once again on hand to keep keep the move going, but that attack floundered when Matt Fagerson lost possession in contact. 

There was no shortage of cautious kicking for territory during this third quarter. Then, after an excellent spiral by Finn Russell set up a line-out on Australia's 22, slick hands gave van der Merwe the chance of a gallop on the left, before Nic White did well to bring the big man down. Play swept back to the right, but Hogg's pass to Graham was cut-out by Wright. 

Eventually, the pressure told, with hooker Ewan Ashman marking his international debut by carrying on the prolific scoring record of his Scotland Under-20s days with a brilliantly taken try under pressure in the left corner. 

Australia got their noses back in front when O'Connor nailed the points from 40-yards out and directly in front of the posts after Watson was penalised as he tried to pilfer possession over a tackle, but Russell responded in kind with just over 10 minutes to go after a collapsed scrum, and that's how it stayed until the end. 

Scotland closed out the game well. There was some good work from Jamie Hodgson and Ritchie when they tag-teamed Kurtley Beale to prevent the recycle and win a vital scrum, while replacements Kyle Steyn and Josh Bayliss – on debut – both won excellent turnovers. 

The Bayliss turnover prompted a sweeping attack involving Russell, Hogg and Steyn, before George Horne went himself when a pass inside looked the better option, and when the ball was recycled Russell over-cooked a cross-field kick and it went out on the full. 

It was a shame the Scots couldn't finish with a flourish, but nobody of a tartan hue will be losing much sleep over that.