Australia will play New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final after they held off an inspired Argentina fight-back to win 29-15 in another thriller of a semi-final yesterday at Twickenham.
A three-try first-half blitz, including two from Adam Ashley-Cooper, helped the Wallabies into a 13-point lead.
Argentina refused to yield and Nicolas Sanchez’s flawless boot –– he kicked five penalties in all –– saw them trail by seven points with 26 minutes to go.
But Ashley-Cooper completed a hat-trick of tries late on to secure victory.
Roared on by a passionate support that included football World Cup winner Diego Maradona, Argentina had chances in the second half as they took control up front and utilised their explosive runners.
But they lacked the composure to exploit several possible overlaps and Australia will now face neighbours New Zealand in the final.
The two great Antipodean rivals have never met before in a World Cup final, and a tournament that has been blessed with so many epic contests may yet have one more.
Argentina may feel they did not get the rub of Wayne Barnes’ refereeing, particularly in losing Tomas Lavanini to a questionable yellow card and seeing both Will Genia and Tevita Kuridrani escape censure for more obvious offences.
Yet they will also rue their own lack of ruthlessness compared to their opponents, too often losing possession deep in enemy territory when the momentum and crowd were with them.
Number eight David Pocock was once again outstanding for Australia as his side won countless turnovers, with fly-half Bernard Foley’s nine points from the tee also critical in deflating the Puma charge.