- Australia overcame Argentina 29-15 to set up a Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand next Saturday at Twickenham
- A brace from Adam Ashley-Cooper plus a score from Rob Simmons and two conversions from Bernard Foley had given the Wallabies a convincing 19-9 lead at half-time
- Pumas lost their talismanic Captain Agustin Creevy to injury in the first half
- Ashley-Cooper completes his hat-trick after the break with Foley adding five points from the tee to confirm the Aussies victory
- Fly-half Nicolas Sanchez makes up the Argentinians scoring with five penalties
The Pumas gave it their all, but the best defense of the tournament managed to keep out the second highest scorers, stopping Argentina from scoring a try for the first time in this competition.
An Adam Ashley-Cooper hat-trick sealed a record-equalling fourth Rugby World Cup final for Australia, who will face old foes New Zealand.
Argentina played well, but a harsh sin bin, as well as injuries during the match to Skipper Agustin Creevy, Juan Imhoff, and Juan Martin Hernandez, proved costly.
The men in blue and white received tremendous support from the Twickenham crowd, but they came up against a monumental defensive effort from the Wallabies, led once again by back-row duo Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
The Wallabies now meet the All Blacks in the first ever final meeting between the pair of heavyweights, with the winner set to make history by hoisting the Webb Ellis Cup for a record third time.
The fastest try of this World Cup came after just 90 seconds, as Rob Simmons read and intercepted a flat Nicolas Sanchez pass to run in a gift from Argentina. Bernard Foley added the extras to put the two-time Champions 7-0 up with barely three minutes on the clock.
The Pumas responded immediately with a great break from Marcelo Bosch, who found a huge gap in the Aussie backline. Argentina were happy to come away with three points from the tee via Sanchez to reduce the deficit to four.
Santiago Cordero accidentally knocked the ball on from a hasty tap and go. From the resulting scrum, Australia were able to double their try count on the 10-minute mark. A looping pass out wide to an onrushing Adam Ashley-Cooper was far too easy for the men in gold. Foley converted once again to make it 14-3.
There was no score for the next 10 minutes, but the game was not short of excitement. Argentina’s star wing Juan Imhoff limped off and was replaced by Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino. The Pumas earned themselves an attacking lineout on Australia’s five-metre line, but Michael Cheika’s men stood firm.
Huge pressure on the defensive scrum was rewarded with a penalty to Argentina, and Sanchez brought his side back to within eight points.
But Argentina received a major blow soon after as Wayne Barnes liaised with the TMO before feeling he had no choice but to send Tomas Lavanini to the bin for a clumsy challenge. The 14 men of Argentina did brilliantly to turnover the ball and escape massive pressure from the Australian maul.
Ashley-Cooper scored his second try of the afternoon on the 32 minute mark from the exact same play, this time Matt Giteau finding him on the left wing. Foley dragged the conversion horribly wide, but Australia now had daylight at 19-6.
Sanchez nailed his third penalty of the match to cut the lead to 10, and Bosch returned to the field to make it even teams once again.
Argentina’s best opportunity came on the stroke of half-time. Both Santiago Cordero and Juan Martin Hernandez looked to be clear through but for try saving tackles, and a loose offload meant the chance went begging.
Bernard Foley squandered the first chance for points after the break and his second kick of the afternoon, drifting his penalty just wide of the left upright.
Sanchez made no mistake with his first chance of the second period, and he brought his side back to within a converted try, at 19-12.
Foley made it three from five with a penalty of his own in the battle of the number 10s to restore his side’s 10 point advantage.
Argentina finally began to express themselves on the 50-minute mark, with quick hands and dancing feet from the likes of Joaquin Tuculet threatening to split open the Wallabies’ rearguard.
The Pumas were back to within a converted try thanks to another flawless Sanchez penalty.
Foley failed to execute an ambitious drop goal attempt on the hour mark, with the game really beginning to open up. And the Pumas continued to pile on the pressure, but time and again Australia were able to turn the ball over when a try seemed inevitable through their inventive back-rows Pocock and Hooper.
Ashley-Cooper then completed his hat-trick and broke Argentine hearts, after scooping up a loose Drew Mitchell pass following the wing’s unbelievable mazy run. Foley made the win even more secure with his successful conversion, 29-15.
What comes next for both
Australia now march on to contest a record fourth Rugby World Cup final, and their first against New Zealand. Along with South Africa, they are the most successful nations in the history of the competition, with two title reigns apiece. The winner of this dream final will make history by standing alone atop of the world as three time Champions. As these two are fierce rivals and neighbors, the victors will also gain bragging rights over the other. Australia were undoubtedly boosted by the return of David Pocock, and a monumental defensive effort will need to be repeated against what many regard as the best team in the world.
Argentina put themselves at a huge disadvantage before everyone even had time to take their seats, as Nicolas Sanchez gifted them a try within 90 seconds of the opening whistle. The Pumas did well to remain competitive throughout the match, and concede just two points whilst they were reduced to 14 men. Try as they might however, they were ultimately frustrated as they were unable to penetrate a stubborn Aussie backline. Next Friday they will lineup against South Africa to contest the bronze medal match in East London, and they should have far more joy in what is bound to be an open and exciting matchup.
Man of the match
Australia: Adam Ashley-Cooper
With an honourable mention to David Pocock for turnovers and tackles galore, the plaudits go to Ashley-Cooper, who became the first Australian to score two Rugby World Cup hat-trick. The right wing found himself in the right place at the right time, and his 15 points were instrumental in an historic win for the Wallabies.
Argentina: 15. Joaquin Tuculet, 14. Santiago Cordero, 13. Marcelo Bosch, 12. Juan Martin Hernandez (22. Jeronimo De La Fuente 44), 11. Juan Imhoff (23. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino 17), 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 9. Martin Landajo (Tomas Cubelli 56), 8. Leonardo Senatore (20. Facundo Isa 48), 7. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 6. Pablo Matera, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 4. Guido Petti (19. Matias Alemanno 58), 3. Ramiro Herrera (18. Juan Figallo 61), 2. Agustin Creevy (16. Julian Montoya 30), 1. Marcos Ayerza (17. Lucas Noguera 61)
Australia: 15. Israel Folau (22. Matt Toomua 64), 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Giteau (23. Kurtley Beale 47), 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Will Genia (21. Nick Phipps 66), 8. David Pocock, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy (20. Ben McCalman 56), 5. Rob Simmons (19. Dean Mumm 67), 4. Kane Douglas, 3. Sekope Kepu (18. Greg Holmes 53), 2. Stephen Moore (16. Tatafu Polota-Nau 59), 1. James Slipper (17. Toby Smith 53)