Unfortunately the result was overshadowed by referee Craig Joubert’s two decisions that had a major impact on the game and one that saw the game effectively taken away from Scotland.
The game, like the other quarter finals was wide open from the off and riddled with errors and poor discipline but it made for a wonderful spectacle that kept everyone on the edge of their seat. Both teams went at each other and Scotland were more than a match for the Aussies at the breakdown not helped by the absence of David Pocock.
Scotland lead at half time by only a point after a last minute try by Hooper in the corner after a clever driving maul. Foley missed the extras but the score ensured the Cheika’s half time team talk would be more positive. Although they would have to break history to win the game, Australia have never won a world cup game when losing at half time!
Within minutes of the second half starting Australia were ahead, Joubert sending Maitliand to the bin in controversial circumstances and Australia driving over in the corner and scoring through drew Mitchell.
The momentum then swung back and forth between the two sides with Scotland getting back into the game after Finn Russell charged down Foley’s kick. Australia replied through Kuridrani after winning a Scottish line out . With the score at 32-27 with ten minutes to go, Australia had one foot in the semi finals, but there was still more drama to be played out!
Scotland were handed the lead with seven minutes to go, James Slipper’s pass was intercepted by Bennett who scored under the posts and Laidlaw then cooly converted. Scotland were in the lead by two points and the Wallabies were now staring at the exit door!
With only two minutes left the controversial Joubert awarded a penalty after a Scotland line out want awry and a deflected kick fell to a Scotland player. Slow motion replays showed it came back off Nick Phipps and should have been a scrum, however Joubert awarded a penalty and Foley (who did not have a good game) slotted home to lead by one point.
The Aussies saw the game out, Joubert sprinted off to a chorus of boo’s and Scottish hearts were broken, but what a game!
The Wallabies now Face Argentina in the semi final next Sunday at Twickenham for a place in the final.
Coach Cheika was asked if the game was a bit of a great escape :
“Usually if you kick a goal at the end of the game to win, it’s a pretty good escape. Saying that, if you score five tries, then you expect to be near the winning side. Maybe we shouldn’t have opened it up for them but we wanted to play to our identity which is to play running footy.”
He will hope the next match against Argentina is more controlled. Attacking was excellent scoring five tries will have pleased him but defensively they need to look back to the Wales game and pull that performance out again.
Will they make the final?…..Would be hard to bet against them now!