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(Reuters) -Australia snatched a 14-12 win over Scotland after finishing with 13 women in a wild and windy Rugby World Cup match in Whangarei on Saturday.
Down 12-0 near the hour-mark, the Wallaroos rallied through tries to winger Bienne Terita and prop Ashley Marsters before fullback Lori Cramer slotted the winning conversion in the 75th minute.
But there was late drama as Marsters was given a red card for a high tackle a minute after her try and hooker Adiana Talakai was dismissed for a second yellow card for another dangerous tackle after the siren.
The Wallaroos hung tough, though, turning over the ball in the 84th minute and claiming the win when referee Lauren Jenner penalised the Scots for a ruck infringement.
Australia rebounded from their opening 41-17 loss to hosts New Zealand and will look to seal a quarter-final berth against Pool A rivals Wales on Oct. 22.
“It was a real nerve-wracking one,” said Australia captain Shannon Parry.
“They really showed us how to play footy today.
“We’ll take the points, we’re still alive and that’s all that matters … It definitely wasn’t pretty out there but we gutsed it out.”
Scotland, who lost their opener to Wales courtesy of a last-gasp penalty, battled to the finish but were up against a strong breeze that made clearing from defence a nightmare.
The Scots will need to upset New Zealand in their final pool match and hope other results go their way to sneak into the knockouts.
New Zealand meet Wales in Auckland on Sunday.
“Fair play to Australia, they really pinned us in our half,” Scotland captain Rachel Malcolm said.
“The conditions really did play into it … That second half we wanted to try to play with the ball a little bit more … because the wind was so strong.”
With the wind behind them in the opening half, the Scots used their powerful maul to put hooker Lana Skeldon over near the corner in the ninth minute and earn a penalty try in the 27th, with Australia’s Talakai yellow-carded for collapsing the maul.
Scotland defended grimly against the wind in the second half but titanic efforts from Australia’s front rowers finally broke the game open, allowing Terita room for her try on the left flank before Marsters crashed over in the 73rd minute.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)