Australia reached their fourth Rugby World Cup final with a 29-15 victory over Argentina at Twickenham on Sunday thanks to a hat-trick of tries from wing Adam Ashley-Cooper.
The Pumas showed glimpses of the attacking rugby which has lit up this World Cup in the second half but could not recover from a disastrous opening 40 minutes, even though five penalties from Nicolas Sanchez kept their hopes alive until the closing stages.
Australia led 19-9 after a first half punctuated by setbacks to the Pumas. They were behind to an intercept try from lock Rob Simmons within 70 seconds and lost key players Juan Imhoff and captain Agustin Creevy to injury.
Ashley-Cooper (pictured above) scored twice, from superb miss passes by Bernard Foley and Matt Giteau, the second while Argentina lock Tomas Lavanini was in the sin bin for a marginal TMO call for a ‘no-arms’ tackle.
Sanchez and Foley each kicked a penalty at the start of the second half to keep the margin at 10 points.
While Australia’s front row was struggling in the scrummage and the Pumas’ backs were beginning to find gaps at last, hope still flickered. Sanchez kicked his fifth penalty to make it 22-15 as the game opened up thrillingly.
Argentina were not done yet but this was more the Australian defence which frustrated Wales than the one which faltered against Scotland. Whenever an overlap beckoned, the Wallabies snuffed it out.
Then, with eight minutes left, Drew Mitchell stepped in off the left wing and left six Pumas trailing in his wake as he veered across the field before finding Ashley-Cooper for his hat-trick. Foley converted, and not even this exhilarating Argentina team could make a dent in the 14-point deficit.
Australia face New Zealand in Saturday’s final at Twickenham.
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