Australia booked their place in next Saturday’s World Cup final against New Zealand after seeing off Argentina at Twickenham.
Here are five things the All Blacks should be taking away from an absorbing semi-final contest.
1. David Pocock could lay claim to be the world’s finest player
Many will point to New Zealand captain Richie McCaw as being the holder of that crown, but there can be no doubt Australia are a completely different side with Pocock calling the back-row shots.
He is a player who matches immense physical prowess with wonderful ball-handling skills. He might yet drive his team to world title glory in six days’ time.
2. Argentina’s naivety surfaced at the wrong time
Conceding two tries in the first 10 minutes of any game – let alone a World Cup semi-final – is hardly the smartest move, but for all of Argentina’s magic and attacking intent, they were punished for a lack of tactical appreciation that gifted Australia a sizeable early advantage and put them on the road to the World Cup final.
3. Argentina can lay claim to having world rugby’s finest fans
Resident Pumas cheerleader Diego Maradona was in full corporate hospitality mode at Twickenham, but Argentina’s man-in-the-street fans were fantastic, arriving at Twickenham from late morning, with many draped in flags and embracing their team’s best World Cup performance since 2007 as they created a memorable carnival atmosphere.
4. Australia’s back division can hurt New Zealand
Reigning world champions New Zealand will go into the World Cup final as favourites, but the Wallabies have the potential to hurt them if they can showcase talent like three-try semi-final star Adam Ashley-Cooper, centre Matt Giteau and full-back Isreal Folau.
It is stating the obvious, perhaps, but that is realistically their best chance of being crowned world champions.
5. Nigel Owens must referee the World Cup final
Welshman Owens’ appointment should be confirmed within the next 48 hours, and while Frenchman Jerome Garces controlled Saturday’s semi-final between New Zealand and South Africa impressively, England’s Wayne Barnes did not have his finest game 24 hours later. New Zealand versus Australia should be a great final, and it needs a great referee. Step forward, Owens.