Rugby World Cup: Australia out-kick Wales and Biggar through Foley
It was a case of rinse and repeat for Australia fly half Bernard Foley at Twickenham. His kicking, coupled with brave Wallabies defending despite a spell with two players in the sin-bin, took his team past Wales and to top spot in Rugby World Cup Pool A.
Foley’s huge contribution to sending host nation England out of the tournament last weekend was repeated here, kicking five penalties and aiding the Aussies to hold up Warren Gatland’s men despite being a couple of men down midway through the second-half.
All points scored between these Pool A opponents, both of which were already through but keen to come first and thus avoid resurgent South Africa in the quarter-finals, came from penalty kicks. Foley’s five outweighed two from Dan Biggar, so the Wallabies ran out 15-6 winners.
Wales started strongly, bursting quickly through the Aussies’ defence with George North reaching the try-line only to be held up by opposition back row Ben McCalman. Play was brought back, they took the scrum, and Biggar’s boot soon put three penalty points on the board, but the Welsh wouldn’t lead again here.
A tense contest ensued, with Australia taking 20 minutes to make any real inroads into their opponents’ half. Wales did little with their lion’s share of possession, however, with only one further penalty given away to them.
The Wallabies’ 9-6 half-time lead was thus narrow and there was nothing in the game, but they came out a very different side showing increased strength against Welsh line speed. A neck-roll from Taulupe Faletau allowed Foley to kick a fourth Aussie penalty.
Levels of indiscipline saw Michael Cheika’s team punished twice, however, first with Will Genia going in the bin for not being 10 metres and tackling Gareth Davis. Wallabies colleague Dean Mumm followed suit shortly thereafter for an aerial infringement on Alun Wyn Jones at a line-out.
Wales coach Warren Gatland surely smelled blood, but didn’t bank on Australian heroism twice holding up attempts from his side to cross the try-line. Being two men light, this defensive show was magnificent, and Foley kicked another three points.
Defeat for the Welsh was sealed by winger Alex Cuthbert sitting out the final three minutes after a deliberate knock-on, as the Wallabies completed the lowest-scoring match between these two since 1958.
Gatland’s Wales still advance, but tangle with the Springboks, while Coral’s 2/1 tournament second-favourites Australia encounter slow starters Scotland in the last eight.