Michael Cheika says he needs to take responsibility for the close call against Scotland last weekend.
In a game which will go down in Rugby World Cup history as the ‘great escape’ for the Australians -- and possibly as the ‘so close they could taste it’ loss for Scotland -- the lessons learned will be invaluable for the Wallabies' next battle.
On Monday morning (Australian time), Australia will face Rugby Championship opponents Argentina in the second semi final.
In last weekend's quarter-final, Australia made mistakes which were uncharacteristic of its performance in this campaign to date, but they were small mistakes of process and focus and the team’s newly instilled culture of composure under pressure served it well in the end.
In the post-match dissection, analysts and experts concluded that the Wallabies could not win without David Pocock, but they may have to as reports are varying as to what chance he'll be to play, along with team mates Israel Folau and Scott Sio.
The Wallabies’ scrum was not as tight as in previous matches and the absence of Pocock was telling in the breakdown although Michael Hooper did well, but did not manage to gain the penalties which Pocock can conjure.
While the depth and quality of the Wallabies’ line-up is undoubtedly one of the great successes of Cheika’s one-year reign, it is a fact that the side plays better structured rugby when Pocock is in the mix. And his 'partner in crime' Hooper, will be hoping to have the 'Pooper' pairing back on the field.
Cheika’s long-held mantra is hard work. So while some of the basics of the Wallabies’ game were called into question against Scotland, they are not deficiencies which the Australians cannot master, and they will no doubt have been working hard on these in training this week.
Of course, the Cheika mantra is also to enjoy the experience.
Given the length and workload of a tournament like the World Cup, a team’s ability to remain focused in the most important matches – the finals – is often the testament to which teams deserve to be in the final game of the campaign. This focus is what was tested in the quarter final scare against Scotland.
The Wallabies match with Argentina will be another test of endurance, power and focus for the Australians but it is what Cheika says he has been building them towards with a rugby-first belief in themselves and the team.
For Argentina, one of its key playmakers is veteran Juan Martin Hernandez and Wallaby Matt Giteau says he is someone they'll need to keep an eye on.
Pumas halfback Tomas Cubelli believes his team's current confidence and momentum in this campaign will see it through to its first World Cup final.
Here's how the Wallabies and the Pumas have fared against each other to date.
Despite the ongoing debate about northern versus southern hemisphere styles of play, the expectation is that this weekend will see two very good rugby matches with barely any daylight between the quality of these four sides -- and while most experts are tipping an All Blacks Wallabies Final, an alternative scenario is not out of the question.Suggest a correction