Australia made it an all Southern Hemisphere semi final line up for the Rugby World Cup, but were given a real scare by Scotland at Twickenham. The Scots were less than two minutes away from victory when a penalty from Bernard Foley broke Scottish hearts.
However this was not the imperious Australia that swept aside England, nor was it the resilient Wallabies who beat back the Welsh attack with 13 men. The Australian side on display were full of errors and were punished by an excellent Scotland side who can consider themselves unlucky to be out of the tournament.
Australia Survive Scottish Scare but must Improve
Bernard Foley who looked unplayable on this ground a fortnight ago against England struggled early on with the boot, missing his first three conversion attempts. His kicking came good in the end, scoring the game’s decisive points. However he will need to be far more accurate against a ruthless Argentinean side, who were top scorers in the pool stage, and then put 40 points on Six Nations champions Ireland in their quarter final.
Australia also made too many handling errors and left points on the field with knock-ons at key moments. The defensive toughness the Wallabies showed against Wales was nowhere to be seen as Scotland’s backs and forwards made good yards and created opportunities.
The Wallabies gave Scotland too many penalties, especially from the scrum, and the Scots managed the game well taking points from their attacks either through tries or the boot of Greg Laidlaw, who scored 19 points including five penalties.
Australia were guilty of individual errors, two of which almost handed Scotland the match and nearly sent Australia crashing out. The Wallabies gifted the Scots two tries, firstly through Bernard Foley’s poor kick which was charged down by Finn Russell allowing Tommy Seymour to score, and then James Slipper looked to have handed the Scots victory on a silver platter as his poor pass only found Mark Bennett who sprinted underneath the posts to give Scotland the go ahead score. Australia must cut these individual errors out if they want to progress further in the tournament.
Australia have suffered a scare today, yes, but they are still in the tournament. They have beaten all three of the remaining teams in the World Cup, on their way to winning the 2015 Rugby Championship. The Wallabies have a great shot to win their third Webb Ellis Cup and that means winning two more matches. Sometimes you play beautiful rugby and win, other times you win ugly. Today Australian won ugly. The Wallabies rode their luck at times and were on the right side of a couple of key decisions. But that is what it takes to win a Rugby World Cup. Win the matches you don’t play your best rugby in, take advantage of every bounce of the ball and referring decision that goes your way. The semi final against Argentina will be a tough match for the Wallabies and they will need to get back to the form they showed in their matches against England and Wales, to give them the best shot of beating the Pumas and advancing to the Final.