RWC 2023

Australia win but still face early exit

October 2, 2023 6:02 am

[Source: Rugby World Cup]

Australia secured the bonus-point they needed with a 34-14 win this morning to maintain their slimmest of slim chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals.

But the men in green and gold had it far from their own way at a rowdy Stade Geoffrey-Guichard.

Roared on by a wall of noise, Portugal started at a canter.

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After falling behind early to a Ben Donaldson penalty, Os Lobos produced a thrilling spell of ball-in-hand rugby, ending with centre Pedro Bettencourt crashing over in the corner.

Behind 7-3 after 13 minutes Australia had to dig deep.

Helped by a Bettencourt yellow card just two minutes after his try heroics, the Wallabies did sparkle briefly.

Three tries in seven minutes – the best a fine flowing team effort finished off by prop Angus Bell – settled the nerves.

And when flanker Fraser McReight secured the bonus point soon after half-time it looked like the Wallabies would pull away from the team ranked 16th in the world.

But buoyed by two yellow cards in three minutes for the Wallabies, Portugal refused to crumble.

A second Portugal try with nine minutes left on the clock had Australian hearts racing before winger Marika Koroibete finally cooled thoughts of a historic upset.

The Wallabies now head into the final weekend of Pool play needing a huge favour from their vanquished opponents.

If Portugal can beat Fiji on 8 October and deny the Pacific Islanders a losing bonus point, Australia will limp into the quarter-finals.