The second of the Rugby World Cup semi-finals sees Argentina clash with Australia at Twickenham on Sunday. While the Wallabies hold the edge over Los Pumas historically, the form of both sides hitherto at the tournament suggests we are in for a thriller and anything could happen in London. A quick glance the form of the South Americans reveals an opening Pool C defeat by New Zealand (26-16) preceded bonus point victories against Georgia (54-9), Tonga (56-16) and Namibia (64-19). Daniel Hourcade’s men then thrashed Ireland 43-20 in a quarter-final performance that would have been lauded by all and sundry had it not been for the All Blacks’ 62-13 demolition of France the night before. The Argentines are in good nick.
The Australians have also been impressive. Michael Cheika’s charges opened with a 28-13 win against Fiji before running Uruguay ragged 65-3. Then when the heat was turned up, it was England (33-13) and Wales (15-6) who had to flee the kitchen. The nature of the victory against the English was particularly impressive and is what catapulted the men from Down Under to the summit of the tournament favourites’ list. However the two-time world champions got out of jail against Scotland in the narrowest of fashions last weekend 35-34.
The expert opinion is that the Aussies cannot be that mediocre two weeks running, nor can Hourcade’s side be that good twice in successive Sundays. But who is to say that cannot be false? A timely boost for Cheika’s charges is the return of Israel Folau and David Pocock which could well prove to be the difference come match day. Moreover the Oceania side has won five of the last six meetings between the sides including the most recent meeting in Mendoza, when the gold jerseys ran in four tries to record an easy 34-9 win.