Wallabies qualify for Rugby World Cup semi-final

by RUGBY.com.au staff

A last-minute Bernard Foley penalty has sent the Wallabies into their sixth Rugby World Cup semi-final, where they will meet Argentina after a heart-stopping 35-34 win over Scotland.

Foley missed some difficult chances with the boot in the opening half but as the heavens opened up on Twickenham he found his radar, with a penalty goal inside the last 60 seconds of the match sealing a high-scoring Quarter Final encounter which had five lead changes throughout.

A Mark Bennett intercept try looked like spelling the end of Australia’s tournament with just six minutes left as Greig Laidlaw converted the try to put the Scots two points up, before Foley’s penalty shot.

Three opening-half tries weren’t enough to give the Wallabies an advantage, trailing by one point at the break, but a yellow card to Scottish winger Sean Maitland gave Australia a one-man advantage early in the second.

Two five-pointers to winger Drew Mitchell saw him rise to equal second in the all-time World Cup try scoring list, behind only Jonah Lomu and Bryan Habana, including one that gave the Wallabies the lead in the 42nd minute capitalising on their extra man.

Australia began the game at a frantic pace, recycling their ruck ball quickly and putting Scotland under immense pressure.

Foley went within an inch of setting up an opening try in the fifth minute but an inside ball to Mitchell just missed the winger’s fingertips.

The Wallabies got their breakthrough via Adam Ashley-Cooper in the ninth minute, after a powerful run from outside centre Tevita Kuridrani, who broke two tackles on the way to his offload to Ashley-Cooper.

Kurtley Beale fielded Scotland’s high balls well in the opening half, making the most of his starting opportunity as a replacement for the injured Israel Folau.

Scotland inside centre Peter Horne found a gap in the Wallabies defence in the 18th minute to cross for Scotland’s first and put them in the lead for the first time in the match. A scrum penalty to the Scots just three minutes later stretched their lead eight points and handed them the momentum.

Greig Laidlaw put the Wallabies under pressure with the boot, converting all four of his first-half shots, continuing his tournament-best record.

A Mark Bennett knock on gave Australia a scrum in the 26th minute and they had another penalty in the next minute to advance their way into Scotland’s 22.

Mitchell had Australia’s second in the 30th minute after a multi-phase play generated from a line out, continuing his impressive strike rate in the tournament.

The Wallabies found themselves in a three on two on the left hand side, with Mitchell collecting the final pass.

Wallabies captain Stephen Moore went for a five-metre line out after being awarded a penalty in the 38th minute, leading to a Michael Hooper try off a rolling maul, in a set piece play that has proven prolific for Australia this tournament.

Australia went into the half one point down as Foley failed to land his three attempts at conversion.

Scottish left winger, Tommy Seymour scored Scotland’s second in the 59th minute, after Finn Russell charged down a Foley kick despite a strong effort from Will Genia to stop their momentum. Laidlaw missed the conversion, keeping the margin to just one point with 20 minutes left.

Tevita Kuridrani went over for Australia’s fifth of the match after lock Rob Simmons stole a Scotland line out in the 64th minute putting Australia five points up before Bennett’s try for Scotland, swooping on a loose pass from James Slipper to run away under the posts, sent the vocal blue-and-tartan clad crowd into raptures with just over five minutes to play.

Wallabies inside centre Matt Giteau had a sensational 100th Test, named man of the match, putting in an impressive defensive performance and fittingly kicked the ball into touch to seal the result.

Of some concern for the men in gold however is the fitness of loosehead prop Scott Sio, who ended the match on the bench with his right arm in a sling.

The Wallabies will have a seven-day break before meeting Argentina at the same ground next Sunday (Monday, 3am AEDT) for a place in the Rugby World Cup Final.

Australia 35 (Drew Mitchell 2, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hooper, Tevita Kuridrani tries; Bernard Foley 2 cons, 2 pens) defeated Scotland 34 (Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett tries; Greig Laidlaw 2 cons, 5 pens)