Foley breaks Scotland hearts

Bernard Foley kicked an 80th-minute penalty to steer the Wallabies to a 35-34 victory against Scotland in the World Cup quarter-final on Sunday, reports JON CARDINELLI at Twickenham.

People will be talking about the finish to this game for some time. Scotland looked to be on their way to a famous victory. And then, following a last-minute mistake that resulted in a penalty, the opportunity to make their mark on the 2015 World Cup was lost.

The upshot is that Australia will advance to a semi-final against Argentina. Scotland will leave the tournament with nothing.

Scotland competed well at the breakdown and showed a lot of fight at the collisions. They had the Wallabies under pressure for long periods during the first half, and went to the break with a deserved 16-15 lead.

Centre Peter Horne scored a somewhat fortuitous try in the 18th minute when he broke away from the base of a ruck. Wallabies loosehead Scott Sio battled to live with WP Nel at the scrum, and was penalised repeatedly. The accurate goal-kicking of Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw ensured that the underdogs capitalised on what few opportunities they received.

However, the Wallabies never panicked. They scored three tries in the first half alone. If not for the wayward goal-kicking of Foley, they may have enjoyed a healthy lead over the Scots.

Captain Stephen Moore made a big call on the stroke of half-time to kick a penalty to the corner. The call was justified when the Wallabies set the rolling maul and Michael Hooper got the touchdown.

There was some controversy right after the break when Scotland wing Sean Maitland received a yellow card for a deliberate infringement. TV replays showed that Maitland was going for the intercept. Referee Craig Joubert and TMO Ben Skeen didn’t see it that way, and reduced Scotland to 14 men for 10 minutes.

The Wallabies made their advantage count immediately. Another maul was set, and the ball moved smartly to Drew Mitchell’s wing. With Maitland off the park, Mitchell had little trouble finishing what was his second try of the evening.

Foley recovered from his earlier misses to convert his next three attempts. This would prove crucial as Scotland enjoyed a late surge, first through a Tommy Seymour try and then through yet another Laidlaw penalty.

The scoreboard read 32-27 in Australia’s favour as the game entered the final 10 minutes. The rain began to bucket down but not a soul in the 77,000-strong crowd budged. Their patience would be rewarded with one final twist in the tale.

In the 75th minute, reserve prop James Slipper threw a poor pass that was intercepted by Scotland centre Mark Bennett. Twickenham went mad after Bennett slid in under the cross bar. Laidlaw’s conversion edged the Scots into the lead.

The Wallabies managed to finish the game in the Scotland half of the pitch. The ball went loose and Joubert penalised Scotland for playing it from an offiside position.

Foley held his nerve to sink the kick and secure a narrow but important win.

Wallabies – Tries: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell (2), Michael Hooper, Tevita Kuridrani. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalties: Foley (2).

Scotland – Tries: Peter Horne, Tommy Seymour, Mark Bennett. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalties: Laidlaw (5)

Wallabies – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Giteau, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 James Slipper, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Matt Toomua, 23 Quade Cooper.

Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 David Denton, 7 John Hardie, 6 Blair Cowan, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Josh Strauss, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Richie Vernon, 23 Sean Lamont.

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Jon Cardinelli