How the World Cup semi-final clash between Argentina and Australia was won and lost.
Argentina‘s dream of reaching a World Cup final for the first time was left in tatters by a terrific performance from Australia, who can now look forward to their fourth final.
The Wallabies suffocated every break the Pumas made with outstanding defence and created a hat-trick of tries for Adam Ashley-Cooper with some dynamic running and pin-point passing. Argentina threw everything at the game, especially in the second half, but could not crack open the Australian defence.
Australia made a smart start with a try in the second minute from Rob Simmons, Nicolas Sanchez hit back for Argentina with a penalty five minutes later, but Ashley-Cooper then took the Wallabies into a 19-6 lead with a matching pair of tries, diving over in the right-hand corner for his first and in the left-hand corner for his second.
Two Sanchez penalties either side of one from Bernard Foley brought Argentina back to 22-15 after the break but Australia held them at bay and a magnificent diagonal run from Drew Mitchell created the third try for Ashley-Cooper and took the Wallabies safely into next Saturday’s final.
Australia’s golden start – The Wallabies opened the scoring with just one minute on the clock, when Simmons intercepted a ponderous pass from Sanchez and galloped in from the 22 to score. Before ten minutes were up, Ashley-Cooper had latched onto a long pass from Foley and dived in at the right-hand corner for the Aussies’ second try, and with Foley converting both, they were 14-3 up.
Argentina’s scrum – The Australia scrum has earned plenty of praise during this tournament as it has been so much stronger than in the past, but today Argentina outscrummaged them and forced four scrum penalties.
Wallaby speed – Australia’s line speed caused the Pumas all kinds of problems.Spooked by Simmons’ interception try, several times after that Argentina looked to give a pass, but changed their mind when they saw Wallabies right up in the faces of their supporting runners.
Lavanini’s yellow card – Argentina lock Tomas Lavanini was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Israel Folau with 25 minutes on the clock and while he was off, Australia exploited the extra man to set up Ashley-Cooper’s second try. But it was a harsh yellow card, as when referee Wayne Barnes first looked at the television replays in real time he contemplated just awarding a penalty. Then he looked in slow motion and decided Lavanini was more culpable, saying “he came at it from a distance”. These things always look worse in slow motion and Barnes should have stuck with his original instinct to give the lock the benefit of the doubt. The referee was treated to a chorus of boos from the crowd for his pains.
Australia’a anthem – The choir were a few bars ahead of the band when the anthem was played before the kick-off. The Aussie players still joined in with gusto and it obvioiusly didn’t put them off.
908 – The combined number of metres made by both teams in this very open game was 908, with Argentina making 556m and Australia 352m, Santiago Cordero accumulated the highest individual total, with 100m.
10 – Australia proved to be the masters of the breakdown again, winning then turnovers. David Pocock claimed four of those.
81 – In the final ten minutes of the match Argentina has 81% of possession and 81% of territory, but could not break the Aussie line.
89 – Nicolas Sanchez took his total of points scored in this tournament to 89 with his five penalties today, making him the leading points-scorer of RWC 2015 with two matches to go.
73 – Australia prop James Slipper won his 73rd cap in this match, making him Australia’s most-capped prop of all time.
Argentina: J Tuculet; S Cordero, M Bosch, J-M Hernandez (J de la Fuente 43), J Imhoff (L Gonzalez-Amorosino 17); N Sanchez, M Landajo (T Cubelli 55); M Ayerza (L Noguera Paz 60), A Creevy (capt, J Montoya 30), R Herrera (J Figallo 60), G Petti (M Alemanno 57), T Lavanini, P Matera, J-M Fernandez Lobbe, L Senatore (F Isa 48).
Pens: Nicola Sanchez 5
Sin-bin: Tomas Lavanini 25.
Australia: I Folau (M Toomua 64); A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Giteau (K Beale 46), D Mitchell; B Foley, W Genia (N Phipps 66); J Slipper (T Smith 52), S Moore (capt, T Polota-Nau 58), S Kepu (G Holmes 52), K Douglas, R Simmons (D Mumm 66), S Fardy (B McCalman 55-60, 70), M Hooper, D Pocock.
Tries (4): Rob Simmons, Adam Ashley-Cooper 3, Cons: Bernard Foley 3. Pen: Foley.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Man of the Match: Adam Ashley-Cooper (Australia)
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