What did we glean from the Wallabies' win over Argentina?
1. The Pooper-Fardy reigns supreme
David Pocock shrugged off any questions over his fitness in a superb comeback to the starting team. His four turnovers were the best of the game but his back row partners gave him plenty of competition for best in their tricycle. This combination is more than formidable and the ‘unsung’ third wheel of Scott Fardy stepped up again tonight. The blindside laid 14 tackles and ran out of the line to inflict some of those big hits. They are the linchpins of this side.
2. Defence tastes best scrambled
The Wallabies seem to do their best work under pressure and it proved as much on Sunday afternoon, as Los Pumas made charge after charge at their line. No, they didn’t have to deal with a two-man deficit this time around but make no mistake they were under immense pressure. A handful of try-saving tackles, even by those who aren’t renowned for them, showed the desperation of this team to restrict their opposition.
3. Finishers aren’t just the guys on the bench
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika describes his bench players as finishers but it was the more traditional notion of finisher that prevailed against the Pumas. Adam Ashley-Cooper scored a hat-trick on the end of some sensational support play from Bernard Foley and Matt Giteau and then Drew Mitchell capped it off with a scintillating run to seal the game for Australia. Those things couldn’t happen if there wasn’t a reliable body on the end of it all. A hat-trick is no fluke and Ashley-Cooper is now the only Aussie to have two World Cup trilogies.
4. Kane Douglas is a beast
At 201cm and 122kg, Kane Douglas is not exactly the kind of guy that you’d like to have running at you. Unfortunately for Scotland and Argentina, he was the one making the most hits of anyone, making the most tackles of any Wallaby in their knock-out games. After a shortened season in Leinster with a back injury, Douglas had little preparation heading into this campaign. He has timed his run beautifully into this World Cup, cementing his starting position and improving in every game. He finished with 16 tackles against Los Pumas and post-match said he felt like he was building with every game.
5. The Wallabies are the real deal
They came into the tournament as underdogs, having spent less than a year under Michael Cheika. Heading into the pool of death, they were considered to be up against it to get out of their pool, let alone win it. Every challenge they have been set they have met and despite a gruelling campaign, Australia finds itself in a World Cup final. They’ll probably find themselces underdogs next Saturday but that they’re there at all is something not even they predicted.