AUSTRALIA has cemented a place in the Rugby World Cup final for the first time since their heartbreaking defeat to England in 2003, beating Argentina 29-15 at Twickenham.
The Wallabies were once again exceptional in defence, and executed with precision in attack, as Adam Ashley-Cooper managed a three-try haul. His third was the biggest highlight of the game, as fellow winger Drew Mitchell beat eight defenders in a swerving, 60-metre run to set him up.
Outstanding performances from Wallaby flankers Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy, as well as the genius of breakdown specialist David Pocock, were pivotal in giving Australia a wealth of attacking opportunities.
Former Wallaby captain John Eales hailed the backrow as the “best in the world” off the back of the dominant display.
“It was a relentless effort from the Wallabies, they just kept putting the Argentinians under pressure, but then they had to absorb a lot of pressure themselves,” Eales said.
“At the start of the tournament one of the questions we asked, we said ‘for Australia to advance here, we have to be the best in the world at something’.
“We are the best in the world at the breakdown. Pilfering the ball but also the pressure the guys are putting on. Line speed is looking really good.”
Its all thumbs up for the Wallabies.Source:AP
When pressed over the form of the All Blacks, Eales maintained his former side was the best at the ruck contest.
“I think they are and I think they showed that in Sydney. When we have got this team, with this combination on, I think we are (the best in the world). We have proven that in a number of games.”
Australia will now face the All Blacks in the World Cup final for the first time in its history. The historic match will be played at Twickenham next Sunday morning, kicking off at 3AM (AEDT).
Read on to see how the game unfolded.
WITH a total of 876 Test caps, Australia’s most experienced side in history took the field against Argentina and did not take long to show why they are ranked No.2 in the world.
After Drew Mitchell looked to break the Argentinian line and the ball was turned over, the South Americans were on attack in their own half. Flyhalf Nicholas Sanchez looked to play the ball to an inside runner, shooting a long pass back towards the ruck, which was intercepted by Wallaby lock Rob Simmons.
Simmons made a 30 metre dash to the line to score to the right of the posts. Bernard Foley converted to make it 7-0 to Australia after just two minutes.
After a free kick from the first scrum of the game, Argentina turned the ball back to the Australian side for Scott Fardy to kick down field. Swift attack from the Pumas saw outside centre Marcelo Bosch nearly slide through before being brought down by Bernard Foley in the Wallaby 22.
An intercept from Rob Simmons opened the scoring early for the Wallabies.Source:Getty Images
Strong on attack, the Argentinians were awarded a penalty at the breakdown, for Sanchez to take a successful shot at goal and make it 7-3.
The Wallabies pressed the defensive line off the kick off, as Argentina knocked the ball on in their own 22 to give Australia a scrum in dangerous territory.
Dominant set-piece from the Aussies saw Bernard Foley take the ball to the line, before throwing a long cut ball out wide to veteran winger Adam Ashley-Cooper to dive over in the corner. Foley again converted to make it 14-3 with 11 minutes gone.
A David Pocock turnover put his side back on attack following the restart, with Tevita Kuridrani pressing the Puma defence out wide before turning the ball over at the offload.
Pocock made three turnovers before the game had reached the 20 minute mark, as commentator Rod Kafer sung the praises of the Wallaby No.8.
“What about the influence David Pocock is having on this match. Three turnovers, big tackles, he is some player,” Kafer said.
An Argentinian penalty saw the Wallabies tested with a driving maul from a lineout on their five metre line, but was well defended by the Australian pack, as a scrum was awarded in their favour.
James Slipper was penalised at scrum time, giving Sanchez another shot at goal. The fly-half nailed the kick from the sideline, bringing his team within eight to make the score 14-6 after 24 minutes.
In a call described by commentators as “unlucky”, Argentinian second rower Tomas Lavaninni was shown a yellow card for a diving tackle directed at the knees of Wallaby full-back Israel Folau, leaving the Pumas a man short with 13 minutes remaining in the half.
And things continued to worsen for the South Americans, as captain Agustin Creevy left field after just 30 minutes due to injury.
Adam Ashley-Cooper already had two tries to his name at the half-time break.Source:Getty Images
Commentator Tim Horan described the replacement as a crucial moment for Argentina.
“That is a massive blow for the Pumas, Creevy is an excellent player,” Horan said.
A strong phase play from the men in green and gold immediately followed, which saw Israel Folau cut down just metres from the line. Skipper Stephen Moore set up the play moments later, tackled to the right of the Pumas posts as a sniping pass from halfback Will Genia hit Bernard Foley on the run.
A rushing defensive line succumbed once again to the cut pass from Foley, sending Ashley-Cooper over in the left corner for his second try of the match. Foley missed his first conversion of the night, making it 19-3 to the Wallabies.
Sekope Kepu was penalised immediately after the restart, when the front rower found himself offside in the defensive line as Argentina set up a short lineout.
The Pumas sharp shooter knocked it over from 40 metres out to reduce the Wallaby lead to 10. 19-9 with four minutes to play in the half.
Argentina came close to their first try of the match, with a minor defensive lapse from the Australians giving them a sniff down the right side through winger Santiago Cordero.
The Wallabies were awarded a scrum for a Pumas knock on, which saw Foley kick the ball into touch to end the half with no further score.
THE Wallabies again started the half well, with Scott Fardy being awarded a penalty at the breakdown straight from the kickoff. Bernard Foley took a shot at goal but pushed the kick to the left of the upright.
The Argentinian woes continued as veteran centre Juan Hernandez left the field just three minutes into the half with a suspected rib injury. However it was yet another penalty at the scrum against the Aussies that saw the Pumas push within seven. Sanchez continued his perfect kicking record to make it 19-12 to the Wallabies.
Foley returned serve after Argentina were penalised for hands in the ruck, with the flyhalf knocking it over the black dot from 40 metres out to extend Australia’s lead, as the scoreline read 22-12 in their favour.
David Pocock was simply heroic against the Pumas.Source:Getty Images
The shoot-out continued, with back to back penalties against Australia in their own half adding another score to Sanchez’s haul, making it 22-15 after 54 minutes.
A chip kick from replacement Kurtley Beale reignited a stagnant Wallaby attack, as Foley looked to try his luck with a third cut ball to Ashley-Cooper. This time the play was shut down, as the Argentinians pressured the Wallabies onto the back foot, causing a knock on from the man who started the initial burst.
With nothing on in attack, the Wallaby flyhalf took a wayward shot at a field goal, pushing the ball to the far right of the posts and giving possession back to the Pumas, who nudged the ball back towards the halfway mark.
Australia narrowly escaped damage off the back of a lightning phase attack from the Pumas, with a turnover from replacement hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau allowing Will Genia to kick the Wallabies out of their own half.
Clearly struggling with a recurring ankle injury, fullback Israel Folau left the field with 17 minutes remaining to be replaced by exciting backs utility Matt Toomua.
Tirelessly working all game, commentators praised the work of the Wallaby defensive line, who scrambled to cut down an Argentinian backline that continued to ask questions.
“It feels like Wales all over again. The defence from the Wallabies has been outstanding,” Rod Kafer said.
“Time and time again someone comes up with the big play.”
Drew Mitchell showed why the Wallabies wanted him back in the Australian program, setting up a magnificent try in the 71st minute.Source:Getty Images
Drew Mitchell made one of the plays of the game in the 71st minute, when he broke the line down the left wing, only to beat eight defenders while crossing towards the middle of the field.
A long pass went to ground, but dribbled across to winger Adam Ashley-Cooper to give the 31-year-old a hat trick of tries. Foley converted to make it 29-15 with 7 minutes remaining.
“That is one of the most gorgeous things you will see in rugby,” said Kafer of Drew Mitchell’s break.
The Pumas failed to execute in the final minutes, despite heavily testing a clearly exhausted Wallaby defensive line.
A gallant performance from the South Americans, the brutal toll of the game showed in the faces of the Wallabies as the final whistle was blown. The Aussies were reserved in their reaction to the victory, showing immense respect for their opponents.
Australia took out the match 29-15, led by a man of the match winning performance from 112-Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper.