Scotland duo set for Wallabies clash

by staff

Scotland forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray are free to play the Wallabies in their World Cup quarter-final after having their three-week suspensions overturned on Saturday morning.

The pair appealed against their bans for a tip tackle on Samoa’s Jack Lam in their final pool match, meaning they will be available to take on Australia in the sudden-death match.

The World Rugby Appeal Committee, that included former Australia coach Robbie Deans, found the players had not dropped or driven Lam into the ground and thus the tackle was not dangerous.

Their successful appeal adds intrigue to Sunday’s quarter-final, with the Wallabies forced to rule out Israel Folau (ankle) and David Pocock (calf).

Scotland have opted to select two specialist openside flankers against the Wallabies, with Blair Cowan playing at six, partnering with John Hardie and David Denton in the Scottish back row.

Cowan said on Saturday that he was happy to play a different role in the side.

“At six you get your hands on the ball a bit more, at seven you are more the link man,” he said.

“You’re looking for second or third phase tackles, whereas at seven you are on the first phase.

“You try to relieve pressure on the back-line, so if they need me to carry, I will be there for them.”

Cowan said the absence of a “phenomenal” Pocock in the Wallabies’ back row didn’t diminish the challenge of winning the breakdown battle.

“(Coach Michael) Cheika has gone a great job with them and I’ve been really impressed with watching them through the World Cup,” he said.

“They’ve had a bit of rotation and every back-row has stepped up for them.

“Pocock is phenomenal and the best around at the moment, but they have some players who can step in.”

Australia plays Scotland on Monday 2am AEDT for a spot in the Rugby World Cup final four.