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‘It’s not impossible’: The shock upset that could cheer up Wallabies fans

By Finn Morton
The shock upset that could cheer up Wallabies fans

There were only two points in it, but that’s all England needed as they sent the Wallabies packing at the quarterfinal stage of the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

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Wallaby Stephen Hoiles came off the bench with less than five minutes to play as Australia fought desperately for what would’ve been a tournament-changing three points in Marseille.

But England held on. Stirling Mortlock missed what would’ve been a match-winning penalty with just under three minutes to play, with the goal-kicking centre hooking his attempt wide left.

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The pain, hurt and frustration of a quarterfinal exit began to sink in as referee Alain Rolland brought an end to the Test at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.

But the rugby world turned their focus to another blockbuster. Tournament favourites New Zealand played France in the second quarterfinal later that night, and that historic upset will never be forgotten.

With the All Blacks bowing out in the quarters, Hoiles remembers that result as “the only thing” that could cheer up Wallabies supporters on an otherwise difficult night.

“The last World Cup in 2007 in France, I played in that and we lost a quarterfinal to England and it was sombre and it seems like what you’ve seen on the screen last week for the Wallabies,” Hoiles added.

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“The only thing that cheered up the Australian supporters was them watching the All Blacks get beaten by the French.

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“I’m not gonna say we’re sitting here cheering them.”

Hoiles compared the Wallabies’ “sombre” mood to the current crop of Australian players who were beaten by Wales 40-6 in a record World Cup defeat last weekend.

The Wallabies, who had lost to Fiji earlier in the tournament, will almost certainly bow out in pool play for the first time ever.

But much like that tournament in France 16 years ago, the All Blacks and Wallabies can have their World Cup dreams dashed at the same stage of the tournament.

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If New Zealand fails to beat Italy on Friday night at OL Stadium in Lyon – yes, at the very same venue as the Wallabies versus Wales clash – then they’ll almost certainly fail to make the quarters.

“This is a very good Italian side. This is probably the best Italian side that’s ever gone to a World Cup. They’ve had some big wins over the last couple of years in the Six Nations,” Hoiles added.

“It’s not impossible for them to beat the All Blacks, it’s more even than it’s ever been, but I do think the All Blacks will be too good.”

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