SYDNEY, Monday 26- Australians Monday wildly celebrated the Wallabies’ win over Argentina to set up a keenly-anticipated World Cup final showdown with their Bledisloe Cup nemesis New Zealand.
Die-hard fans watched on their TV sets at home and gathered in bars in the early hours of the morning to cheer the Wallabies’ 29-15 semi-final victory over Argentina at Twickenham in London.
While there was relief that Australia had got past the Pumas, the immediate focus shifted to next weekend’s all-or-nothing final with the All Blacks.
Wallaby fan Matt Entwistle, watching the game in a Sydney pub, enthused: “The Wallabies mate, they’re unpredictable and they win every time. We’ll win every time. We’re going to beat New Zealand!”
Another fan Simon Auvaa added: “The Wallabies can win the World Cup. Since 2011 I’ve been telling them that but only if they beat the All Blacks. So I’ve got what I want for the final.”
Social media went into meltdown with anticipation ahead of Saturday’s first-ever World Cup decider between the two arch-rivals in what will be Australia’s first final since 2003.
“Dream Final. Two best teams in the world at moment. #Wallabies have to beat the best to be world champions. How it should be,” tweeted one Australian fan.
“Can’t wait for next week to watch the #wallabies take on the #allblacks. It is going to be a sensational game,” said another.
Wallabies great John Eales insisted Australia held a decisive edge over the All Blacks at the breakdown with their outstanding back row of David Pocock, Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy.
“We are the best in the world at the breakdown, pilfering the ball but also the pressure the guys are putting on,” said Eales, who led the Wallabies to the 1999 World Cup crown.
– Roaring mouse –
In keeping with their new-found defensive steel after shutting out Wales with just 13 men for a critical time during the group stage, the Wallabies put up a wall against the Pumas.
But The Sydney Morning Herald posed the question: Was this enough to send tremors through the All Blacks camp?
“No. The Wallabies will need to find another two gears in the final. But rewind a year and picture the Wallabies in a World Cup final. The journey has been astounding,” the newspaper said.
“Scotland (35-34 quarter-final win) was an escape, and the performance an aberration.
“In the second World Cup semi-final the Wallabies returned to the line speed, breakdown dominance and clinical use of the ball that has been the trademark of their World Cup campaign. The 29-15 final scoreline perfectly captured the gap between the two sides.”
New Zealand media lavished praise on Michael Cheika’s revitalised Wallabies but said the All Blacks remained favourites to win the tournament.
“From the outset of the eighth Rugby World Cup the All Blacks and Wallabies have been the two best teams — it’s only right, then, the trans-Tasman neighbours will contest their first final,” Fairfax NZ’s Liam Napier said.
New Zealand Herald’s Chris Rattue added: “The All Blacks are ready to pounce on the mouse which is roaring.”
“Street fighter coach Michael Cheika has revived Australia, but the tournament was always going to stretch their power resources to breaking point,” he wrote.
Australia have won just one of their last 10 Tests against the All Blacks, although a 27-19 victory in Sydney came as recently as August.