In their victory over Argentina, the Wallabies looked a different side to the group that scraped through with a last minute victory against Scotland in the quarter-finals.
Progressing through to their first World Cup final in 12 years, the Australians kept a lid on their celebrations, praising the fight of the Argentinians and looking ahead to the “big dance” next week.
See how the world reacted to Australia’s 29-15 win.
THE MEN IN THE MIDDLE
When the final whistle blew, the reaction of the players involved spoke volumes for the type of game the second semi-final of the Cup was.
While jubilant at their victory, the Wallabies remained reserved in their comments after the match.
“That took a fair bit out of the tank. We know the task next week is huge and we’ll have to play really well,” skipper Stephen Moore said.
“We knew they would play from everywhere in the field and they did that tonight,” man of the man Adam Ashley-Cooper said.
“Our defence was huge right across the park. The defensive line was really strong. They’re a threat with ball in hand from one to 15 all across the park.
“All I’ve wanted to do was play a World Cup final so I’m extremely stoked.”
Coach Michael Cheika said he thought his side still had plenty to work on ahead of the biggest game of his coaching career.
“We had to work hard to stop them scoring a try so I’m really happy with our defence,” Cheika said.
“We gave away too many penalties in the first half but tried to rectify that in the second.
“Overall, I’m happy we scored four tries, I think we can improve again, and that’s important.”
Argentine captain Agustin Creevy said his side would still look to their next match in order to achieve the best ranking possible from their World Cup campaign
“We are very sad. But … we want to keep our heads up …. we want to finish in the top three,” Creevy said.
“I would rather be third and not fourth, in the top three.
“That’s my main goal at the moment. We will not be world champions so our next goal is to be third and beat South Africa.”
Wallabies players took to Twitter after the game, as the realisation of their placing in “the big dance” sunk in.
THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PLAYER AT THE WORLD CUP’
Australia’s biggest fears were realised last week when Wallaby breakdown specialist David Pocock failed to pass a fitness test in time for him to play in the quarter-finals against Scotland. And the absence of the man who missed the majority of 2013 and 2014 due to injury was more obvious than a giant hole in the proverbial head of the Wallaby pack.
Pocock produced one of his best performances of the tournament, with a total of four turnovers and tireless defence.
Had Adam Ashley-Cooper not secured three tries to his name, the converted No. 8 would no doubt have been in line for man of the match honours.
Daniel Schofield on The Telegraph rated the 27-year-old’s performance as near perfect. “The single most influential player at the World Cup for the amount of turnovers he wins. Virtually unplayable at the breakdown,” Schofield wrote.
The Guardian’s Andy Bull praised the collective effort of the Wallaby back row, headed by a battle-wounded Pocock.
“Hooper, Pocock and Fardy. Has a certain ring to it. Three men linked by their superb form in this World Cup, their names the first inked in on Michael Cheika’s teamsheet for the final. For all the dizzying talent they have in their back line … it is that back-row trio who are at the heart of this Australia team and, as often as not, in the thick of every last and little good thing they do,” Bull wrote.
“(Pocock is) two steps ahead, he has a preternatural understanding of the way the play is going to unfold, and a clairvoyant’s ability to predict where the ball is going to be in five seconds’ time.”
Chris Hewett marvelled at the strength of the pairing between Scott Fardy and Pocock.
“If the blind-side flanker Scott Fardy … and the No 8 David Pocock have worked harder in a Test match, it does not bear thinking about. How they bent so far without breaking will remain one of the mysteries of the age,” Hewett wrote in The Independent.
Speaking after the match, a bloodied Pocock praised his Argentinian counterparts.
“It was incredibly tough — as we knew it would be,” he said.
“Credit to Argentina, it was physical, but both teams looked to use the ball and both teams were working hard until the 80th minute.
“I thought there were a few pieces of finishing from our back line which was the difference, but it was tough.”
CAN WE BEAT THE ALL BLACKS?
Immediately turning his attention to next week’s Cup decider, Wallaby coach Michael Cheika said it would take “something special” for his side to defeat the defending world champions, but refused to accept the claims made by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer that the Kiwis are the “best team that has ever played the game”.
“You’ve got to go back into the history annals for that,” Cheika said.
“They’ve had some special teams. They’re obviously the world’s number one team and they’re there for a reason.
“It’s up to us to do something special, do something competitive and take it from there.
“Every game is hard at this level. They’re a very well drilled side, have an excellent coach and are very well organised. You have to be working hard all the time and you have to believe in your own way of playing.
“We know we have to impress again. Our fans who are here and back in Australia, they’re enjoying the tournament, getting involved in our team again and we want to make them proud.”
NOT unexpectedly, a number of former Wallabies and legends of the game they play in heaven responded to Australia’s continuation in the tournament.