Rugby World Cup
Adam Ashley-Cooper's hat-trick atones for 2007 Marseille horror show
October 26, 2015
Dominant Australia book final place

Adam Ashley-Cooper has slayed the ghosts of Marseille to help pilot Australia into a dream Rugby World Cup final against the All Blacks.

Ashley-Cooper's historic hat-trick in a 29-15 semi-final triumph over Argentina atoned for his howler in Australia's humbling 12-10 quarter-final loss to England eight years ago.

On that forgettable afternoon in the south of France, Ashley-Cooper delivered the worst performance of an otherwise sterling 113-Test career. But the 31-year-old erased the bitter memories with tries in the ninth, 31st and 71st minutes at Twickenham to become the first-ever Wallaby to bag a World Cup semi-final hat-trick.

© Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Fittingly, Ashley-Cooper's second and third tries were set up by two of the other three survivors from the Marseille meltdown - best mates Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell, whose dazzling run nine minutes from fulltime sealed Australia's win.

"I've been playing the game for a long time now and all I've wanted to do is play in a World Cup final and I'm there, so I'm extremely stoked," he said after also surpassing the great John Eales to become Australia's second-most capped World Cup player.

Argentina 15-29 Australia (Australia only)

With 16 World Cup games over three tournaments, Ashley-Cooper stands behind only fellow former captain George Gregan, who played 20 Tests in four appearances at the global showpiece.

"What a night he won't forget," Gregan said in commentary for Fox Sports.

Eales said the utility ace - the only man to play 560 minutes at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand - would forever be remembered for his hat-trick heroics on one of rugby's greatest stages, just like legendary All Black Jonah Lomu is for setting the same venue alight 20 years ago.

Adam Ashley-Cooper
Adam Ashley-Cooper© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

"Everyone keeps talking about those four tries he [Lomu] scored against England in a World Cup semi-final," Eales said. "Three tries is an extraordinary effort in any game, but a World Cup semi-final and he will be remembered for that - but among many, many things.

"He's been great for over 100 games. It's hard to pick out the special moments for him."

Cheika: We believe in ourselves

Gregan is hoping Ashley-Cooper's career defining moment is still to come in what may be his international swansong against the All Blacks on Saturday.

"I'm sure he'll want to be remembered for winning a World Cup next week and this week was a part of getting there, [getting] a ticket to the dance," Gregan said. "And if he doesn't get a try next week and the Wallabies win, then he'll be as happy as anything because that would finish off a great, great career for a wonderful Wallaby."


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