Rugby World Cup Preview: Wallabies avoid crisis, move on to face Pumas

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Australia v Argentina:  Twickenham Stadium, Sunday 12 pm ET

Australia had lost.

With only a few minutes left to play in last week’s Quarterfinal and trailing by two points at Twickenham, they had been outworked by Scotland, and their World Cup ambitions appeared to be toasted.

Wait…What?

Australia had won! In what will forever be a bile inducing memory for the Scots, the Wallabies were on the sweet side of the most controversial call in the tournament.  With the air suddenly gone in a very Scotch partisan stadium, Aussie kicker Bernard Foley lined up a penalty and drove a three point dagger into Highland hearts to steal a one point victory.

Hours before Australia made their Houdini-like escape from Twickenham, the Argentinians had beaten up an already battered Irish side in Cardiff. With several key Ireland players watching from the grandstand, the Pumas smelled blood.  They were savage up front, and lethal on attack, asking many questions of an Irish defense that, simply ran out of answers.

Keys:

Expect Australia to use their early Christmas gift to acknowledge a mediocre performance and then rebound with a vengeance. Roboflanker David Pocock is back for the Wallabies. He will team with Michael Hooper and Scott Fardy for the first time since they embarrassed England a month ago, but the fastest back row in rugby had better be on their game, because the burly young Argentinian forwards pack a serious punch.

Australia’s scrum coach is Mario Ledesma, the famous Argentinian prop, who has added skill and grit to a formerly struggling Aussie pack (but may be secretly pulling for the Pumas). Scrum time becomes an enticing component of the match with pride on the line.

The Argentine backline, historically prone to the kicking game, now dares to attack from anywhere, even deep in their own half.  But they must show up on defense to have a chance to stop Australia.

Late in this game, it will come down to who gets better minutes from their benches.

Advantage Australia.