To any remaining Wallabies fans out there, you can put down those calculators, at least for a few more hours.
Yes, the Wallabies are still alive in this Rugby World Cup. Just.
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The margins remain incredibly slim, however, and the final nail could be hammered into their proverbial Pool C coffin at around 4.45am AEST on Monday morning.
Eddie Jones’ massively under-pressure and underperforming squad received a stay of execution overnight when Fiji only narrowly overcame Georgia.
If the Fijians had earned a bonus point victory by scoring four or more tries, Australia would have been eliminated already with one match remaining.
Instead, Fiji had to rally for a narrow 17-12 comeback win.
So if the Wallabies can earn a bonus-point triumph over world No. 16 Portugal, a pretty big “if” based on form, they will have to sit around in France for another week before their fate is decided.
Fiji take on the Portuguese on Monday, 9 October, when a win or even a seven-point loss would be enough to leave Australia on the scrap heap.
It would be a first ever failure to get out of a World Cup pool.
Jones has been a fiercely combative figure throughout his so far ill-fated tenure back in charge of the Wallabies, but that fire is waning.
Just one win from eight Test matches, against second-tier rated side Georgia to start this World Cup, has changed the tune of a man that hammered the Australian media as “so bloody negative” and “pessimists” ahead of this tournament getting underway.
“If there needs to be a fall guy for the World Cup then it’s obviously me,” said Jones ahead of the clash with Portugal.
“When you become the head coach of a team you take on that responsibility.
“The playing group has been absolutely fantastic, I couldn’t ask any more from them.
“So, therefore, if there needs to be someone responsible for the performance, that’s pretty self-explanatory.”
A 22-15 loss to Fiji, a first defeat to the island nation in 69 years, rocked Australia’s World Cup campaign.
But it was the 40-6 belting at the hands of the Welsh that really demonstrated the standing of the current team.
“It was like we’d just woken up from a bad hangover, it was very, very tough,” flanker Fraser McReight, who has been restored to the starting XV against Portugal, said of the day after that Welsh horror show.
“(But) we still have a chance this weekend. It’s quite small but there’s still hope there so for us it’s all about putting in a good performance against Portugal.”
Jones has picked what’s considered a strong line-up for the clash against a Portugal side on a high after its dramatic 18-18 draw with Georgia last time out.
He has made three changes to his staring XV, while Portugal’s head coach Patrize Lagisquet has made four changes to his pack.
– with AFP