Newspaper article International New York Times

With Ruthless Intensity, Australia Heads into World Cup Final

Newspaper article International New York Times

With Ruthless Intensity, Australia Heads into World Cup Final

Article excerpt

Australia will face the New Zealand All Blacks for the title after it held off Argentina in a 29-15 victory at Twickenham Stadium.

Australia and New Zealand have played each other a record 179 times in international rugby, but never before have they faced off in a Rugby World Cup final.

That will change Saturday, when they play for the world championship. It will also bring rugby union in line with many other sports with a British legacy. The most recent World Cup finals in rugby league, netball and cricket have also been played between these two Pacific nations, and all have been won by Australia.

The Wallabies will go into Saturday's game on a remarkable run of success in World Cup games played in the British Isles -- 19 consecutive wins, including two finals, dating to 1991.

The latest victory, a 29-15 defeat of Argentina Sunday in a World Cup semifinal, showed off the qualities underpinning Australia's success. The Wallabies put a ruthless and pitiless conclusion to this tournament's most compelling story: the rise of the Pumas to join the game's elite.

Even in defeat, the crowd recognized Argentina's contribution with cheers, and the victorious Wallabies provided an honor guard to salute them, too.

The Pumas have reached the semifinals in two of last three World Cups, and with the country getting a Super Rugby franchise next year, Argentina's time will surely come before long.

But the present belongs to Australia, which scored four tries to none, ruthlessly picking off early Argentine errors to score two tries in the first 10 minutes, then defending superbly in the second half as the Pumas desperately sought a way to get back into the contest.

"In the first five minutes we were 14 points down," Pablo Bouza, an assistant coach for Argentina, told Reuters. "It was very tough for us to come back. We tried everything but just could not score tries. Australia defended very well. We made some mistakes that put the team under pressure."

Australia's defensive effort, with flanker Michael Hooper and No.8 David Pocock performing their usual heroics at the breakdown, was rewarded with nine minutes to go when the two veteran wingers combined for the decisive try.

Australia's Drew Mitchell ran through a succession of would-be tacklers in a huge break across the field, sucking in so many defenders that while his final pass went astray, Adam Ashley-Cooper had more than enough time to gather the ball and accelerate to the line for a score that completed his own hat trick and killed off any Argentine hopes of a comeback.

The Pumas battled on, seeking a try that would have been a small reward for their efforts and that certainly would have brought the 80,000 fans to their feet. Australia, ruthlessly focused to the end, denied them even that slight consolation.

Argentina was brave and at times unlucky. …

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