As Bernard Foley lined up his match-winning penalty kick that sent the Wallabies into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals and broke Scottish hearts, his halves partner bowed his head and couldn’t bear to look.
The five-eighth had endured a difficult afternoon with the boot, missing his first three kicks after entering the elimination quarter-final as one of the tournament’s best-performed kickers.
But with one final chance, he rose to the occasion and split the uprights, securing a dramatic 35-34 victory.
Halfback Will Genia, who was sitting on the bench, admitted he didn’t see the kick that kept Australia’s World Cup dream alive.
“I put my head down and just thought ‘If I hear a really loud cheer he’s missed, if I hear a little bit of a cheer he’s got it’,” Genia said.
“So I was real grateful it was a little bit of a cheer.”
Foley also had been at fault for Scotland’s second try, when a clearing kick was charged down by his opposite, Finn Russell, who regathered and offloaded for Tommy Seymour to cross in the corner.
He also came under pressure from Scotland, who sent several bombs his way – several of which he spilled in the first half.
However the 26-year-old, who has been working with kicking coach Chris Malone to hone his consistency in late-game situations, blocked out the negative thoughts and reprised his role as the team’s ice-man.
“I don’t know if I’ve got ice-cool nerves,” said Foley, whose right boot delivered the Waratahs a Super Rugby title in 2014.
“I’d rather not be kicking them right at the death.
“There is a lot of character in this side.
“Even when we were behind with five minutes to go, we knew we had a chance.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who also mentored Foley at the Waratahs, put complete faith in the young playmaker.
It’s why he chose to leave Foley in the match, despite an indifferent display, instead of bringing the enigmatic Quade Cooper off the bench.
“These things happen in a game and you’ve got to hold your nerve,” Cheika said.
“You can’t panic every time something doesn’t go right.
“You’ve got to have a criteria as to what you do decide.
“I spoke with the kicking coach, Chris Malone, and he had a very clear methodology around the decision making going forward and that criteria was met and Bernard stayed on as the kicker.”