Scotland went out of the World Cup in the most agonising fashion, as they led 34-32 with 90 seconds to go but a late Bernard Foley penalty sent the Wallabies into the semis
Australia won a breathtaking quarter-final, with a Bernard Foley penalty with seconds left on the clock. The Wallabies had come out of the traps confidently, playing a controlled, expansive game, opening the scoring after nine minutes through Adam Ashley-Cooper, however Scotland came back brilliantly and Pete Horne danced through the gap to reply on 17 minutes. After a fine penalty from Greig Laidlaw put them 13-5 up, Drew Mitchell was the next Wallaby to cross as the ball was worked wide. With a try before the break by Michael Hooper, the Wallabies trailed by a point. After the break Drew Mitchell and Tevita Kuridrani scored, the first when Sean Maitland was in the bin. Tommy Seymour streaked in after an intercept, and again on 73 minutes, when Mark Bennett scored, before the late Foley kick broke Scottish hearts.
Let’s remember, Scotland didn’t win a game in the Six Nations in a soul-destroying campaign. They were facing The Rugby Championship winners, Australia and were universally written off before the game. After conceding early, they kept chipping away, keeping in touch with the Wallabies through Greig Laidlaw‘s boot, even though they were outscored five tries Scotland’s three. Tommy Seymour‘s try lifted the metaphorical roof at Twickenham and when Mark Bennett picked up the intercept, in the rain, people lost all inhibitions and were leaping around, daring to believe. It was not to be.
Mind the gap
After a sluggish start, Scotland responded with venom and passion. After several incursions into the Wallaby half. After carrying into the breakdown, Scott Sio and Rob Simmons looked at the ball for a split second, neither gathering it. Pete Horne looked up, thought all his Christmases had come at once, and jogged over the line to dot down under the posts. Michael Cheika would have been seething at the costly indecision.
Taking risks often pays off
With the Wallabies trailing 16-10, and 38.27 on the clock, instead of going for the three points, they had enough condifence in the side to go for the corner and take an attacking five-metre lineout. After taking clean ball, they set up a driving maul and wriggled and twisted their way over the line with the irrepressable Michael Hooper to come up with the ball. Five points infinitely better than three.
Foley misses could have proved costly
So inspirational against England with 28 points, Bernard Foley could have cost the Wallabies the World Cup quarter-final. He missed the first three conversions, wasting six points. He will know that if the loses the head-to-head with the tournament’s top points scorer, Nicolas Sanchez next, weekend, the Wallabies could well have a long, premature flight home. It didn’t help that in the second-half his chip in his own 22 was charged down for Tommy Seymour to fly in, in the corner. His late penalty redeemed him to fans, but in truth, he’s had better days.
Go low or go out
After handling errors spurned two try-scoring opportunities in the first five minutes – a reoccurring theme through the game – in the ninth minute they didn’t spurn a third opportunity. Tevita Kuridrani, all 16st of him, powered into Seymour, who went high but was bounced off by the centre who then released Adam Ashley-Cooper to scamper in for his 33rd try in 111 appearances.
Several times in the game, Australia made sloppy, uncharacteristic errors, trying complex moves out wide without getting the basic execution right. A case in point was when Scotland were down to 14-men and the ball had been worked wide to score a simple try. Beale’s pass was forward denying Ashley-Cooper a try to put clear distance between the sides. Simple execution was all that was required but they fluffed their lines. Two intercept tries, when they were in their own half will also mean Michael Cheika will be having stern words behind closed doors.
Letter of the law
Okay, so a deliberate knock-on is a slightly harsh yellow-card by the letter of the law, but a slo-motion replay makes every action look foolhardy and Sean Maitland will be rueing his handiwork, with the referee deciding he had stopped a try-scoring opportunity. Scotland will feel hard done-by as the Wallabies ran up 10 precious points in his absence.
Man of the Match: Matt Giteau (Aus)
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)
Australia ran 325 metres to Scotland’s 246
Australia beat 17 defenders compared to Scotland’s 10
Australia were turned over 17 times, to Scotland’s 9
David Denton carried furthest in the game with 58 metres, followed by Kurtley Beale with 54 and Adam Ashley-Cooper with 47
Jonny Gray was the top tackler with 18, Blair Cowan was next with 13 and Richie Gray with 10
Australia: K Beale, A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Giteau, D Mitchell, B Foley, W Genia; S Sio, S Moore (capt), S Kepu, K Douglas, R Simmons, S Fardy, M Hooper, B McCalman.
Tries: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell (2) Michael Hooper, Tevita Kuridrani
Cons: Bernard Foley (2)
Pens: Bernard Foley (2)
Replacements: T Polota-Nau, J Slipper, G Holmes, D Mumm, S McMahon, N Phipps, M Toomua, Q Cooper
Scotland: S Hogg, S Maitland, M Bennett, P Horne, T Seymour, F Russell, G Laidlaw (capt); A Dickinson, R Ford, WP Nel, J Gray, R Gray, B Cowan, J Hardie, D Denton.
Replacements: F Brown, G Reid, J Welsh, T Swinson, J Strauss, H Pyrgos, R Vernon, S Lamont
Tries: Pete Horne, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett
Cons: Greig Laidlaw (2)
Pens: Greig Laidlaw (5)