Scotland Duo Cleared For Crucial Quarter Final
18 October 2015, 07:13
Scotland forwards Ross Ford and Jonny Gray have been cleared to face Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals after successfully appealing their three-week bans.
Hooker Ford and lock Gray thought their tournament was over after they were punished for a two-man tip tackle on Samoa's Jack Lam.
Ford and Gray were banned after they were found guilty by independent Judicial Officer Christopher Quinlan QC of a dangerous tackle which saw Lam's head driven into the ground at a ruck clear-out during last weekend's final Pool B match in Newcastle.
Quinlan raised eyebrows, though, when he chose to ignore the views of match referee Jaco Peyper, who saw the incident but decided it did not pose a risk to the Samoan flanker.
The Scots lodged an appeal but head coach Vern Cotter was so pessimistic about their chances that he went ahead and named his side to face the Wallabies without them.
However, in a surprise move, World Rugby disciplinary bosses overturned the suspension yesterday - freeing up both met to run out at Twickenham later.
But, having prepared all week with Ford's understudy hooker Fraser Brown and back-up second-rower Tim Swinson, Cotter now has to decide whether to re-jig his team.
A spokesman for the Dark Blues would only say: ``Both Ross and Jonny are available to play and the Scotland team are considering their options.''
The Scots will march into London looking to claim a semi-final slot for the first time in 24 years.
But to take that giant next step they will have to fight off a side which Cotter believes are favourites to go all the way.
However, London Irish back-rower Cowan - also given a second chance when he was called in to replace the injured Grant Gilchrist after missing out on the original squad - insists he will not blink as he stares down the Wallabies.
He said: ``I'm very aware that this is probably the biggest game of my life. At the same time I've got a job to do and processes I need to go through before the game and I want to stay on task for that.
``We are aware that everybody is writing us off but if you don't have self-belief that you can genuinely win then there's no point going out.''