Rugby World Cup 2015: Semifinal - Argentina v Australia
Pumas caught cold as Wallabies progress
PA Sport
October 25, 2015
Date/Time: Oct 25, 2015, 16:00 local, 16:00 GMT
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, London
Argentina 15 - 29 Australia
Attendance: 80025  Half-time: 9 - 19
Pens: Sanchez 5
Tries: Ashley-Cooper 3, Simmons
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley

Adam Ashley-Cooper's hat trick powered Australia into the Rugby World Cup final in a 29-15 victory over Argentina marred by a controversial yellow card for Pumas lock Tomas Lavanini.

The nervous Pumas leaked two early tries to Rob Simmons and Ashley-Cooper, but were battling for equilibrium when Barnes showed no mercy for Lavanini's misjudged low tackle on Israel Folau. David Pocock transformed Australia's breakdown and defensive zeal, denying the ever-ambitious Pumas any tries before Ashley-Cooper's late third score sealed a World Cup final meeting against New Zealand.

A helter-skelter start turned harem scarem for Argentina when a nervy Nicolas Sanchez forced an inside ball, telegraphing his intentions in the process. Wallabies lock Rob Simmons latched on to the cut-back pass and galloped home to hand Michael Cheika's men the ideal opening.

Sanchez and Juan Martin Hernandez worked Marcelo Bosch clean through the midfield before Argentina forced a penalty in Australia's 22. Poise almost recovered, Sanchez stepped up and slotted the goal to cut Australia's lead back to four points.

The occasion continued to rock the Pumas, however, Santiago Cordero knocking on in the process of tapping a mark. Australia struck straight from the scrum, Argentina's backline all flying inwards, gifting Ashley-Cooper an unopposed run-in for the second try.

Bernard Foley's touchline conversion pushed Australia 14-3 to the good with little more than 10 minutes on the clock. Argentina won a fine breakdown penalty, forcing Folau into an error, but lost danger man Juan Imhoff to a suspected concussion.

Argentina bungled their five-metre lineout but forced another penalty from Australia's scrum, Sanchez slotting his second goal. Referee Wayne Barnes then incurred the wrath of the Argentina fans by sin-binning Tomas Lavanini for a no-arms tackle on Folau.

Dominant Australia book final place

Pumas lock Lavanini could reasonably have expected a penalty for his indiscretion, but the addition of a yellow card after lengthy television review appeared extremely harsh. Barnes discussed "benefit of the doubt" with Television Match Official (TMO) Ben Skeen, but ultimately showed the Pumas no mercy.

Argentina 15-29 Australia (Australia only)

The crowd vented their feelings with prolonged booing of the officials, before the Argentina supporters launched into song in a bid to rally their side, cut down to 14 men for 10 crucial minutes. Somehow Argentina won a scrum penalty despite the absence of a key cog in their front five, underscoring their set-piece dominance.

Argentina's captain and hooker Creevy then hobbled out, clearly never fully fit after the leg issue that forced him out of the second half of the quarterfinal victory over Ireland. Despite the early heroics, Argentina were never likely to hold out while a man down.

Sanchez was turned over after a risky half-break from his own 22, and the Wallabies punished the Pumas. Folau almost powered clear, before Matt Giteau floated a beautiful pass out to Ashley-Cooper, who slide home for his second try.

Still Argentina pressed, Sanchez landing his third penalty of the half, to leave Australia leading 19-9. Finally the Pumas found their phase play, Cordero shredding the Wallabies' line to race close. Hernandez could not find Tuculet when halted just shy of the line, however, and Australia escaped to the break unscathed.

Foley missed a regulation penalty at the top of the second half, letting Argentina off the hook after losing the ball cheaply in contact. Attacking linchpin Juan Martin Hernandez then hobbled out in another blow to the Pumas, to be replaced by Jeronimo de la Fuente.

What next for Argentinian rugby?

Argentina then bulldozed Australia off their own scrum again, forcing a penalty that Sanchez landed with ease. Foley responded with a penalty of his own, however, to restore Australia's 10-point cushion. Pocock's unrivalled breakdown skills kept Argentina at bay, the No.8's return from injury vital to his side's gritty defence.

Argentina punted one kickable penalty to touch, then won another penalty from the lineout. This time Sanchez lined up the shot at goal and duly delivered. Time and again Argentina battered Australia's scrum but at no point would Barnes consider a yellow card for the Wallabies' continued infringements.

Still, Argentina threw everything at Australia, powering through the phases and so nearly breaking the Wallabies. Lucas Amorosino's outside break set the Pumas on their way, only for Australia to steal the ball deep in their own 22.

With just a converted try between the teams Argentina continued to press, refusing to be broken by either their slow start or the Wallabies' stubbornness. Toby Smith almost burst through for the Wallabies but Michael Hooper was felled trying to continue the break.

Argentina pressed yet again but Australia's ferocious defence stood up to another test. And after soaking up so much pressure across the course of the half, from a blindside lineout break the Wallabies struck.

Drew Mitchell exploited half a yard on the left wing to scoot through the line before scything in off the flank. Mitchell evaded four cover tackles before flinging a desperate pass out to the right flank. Somehow the ball bobbled backwards and Ashley-Cooper scooped up and scooted home for his hat trick score -- and the try that killed off the Pumas' resistance.

Until that late score the difference remained just seven points -- the very same margin by which Australia profited while Lavanini was in the sin-bin. The Pumas battled on to the bitter end, throwing the ball about and attacking with skill, verve and excitement.

Despite their defeat Hourcade's men must be applauded for their progressive and heartfelt approach to the sport. Australia meanwhile roll on into the final, where they will aim to dethrone defending champions the All Blacks in a mouthwatering clash.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25:  Adam Ashley-Cooper of Australia celebrates with teammates after scoring his sides second try during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Semi Final match between Argentina and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 25, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Australia celebrate Adam Ashley-Cooper's second try of the semifinal © Getty Images
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