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Australia v Argentina, 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final

It's taken nearly two months, but we are finally down to two teams. The reigning champions New Zealand will take on Australia in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final for the very first time. Here's how they got there and what to expect from Saturday's final.

South Africa 18-20 New Zealand

This was arguably the biggest test so far for the All Blacks, who were forced to grit their teeth and grind out a positive result during a fascinating encounter at a sodden Twickenham.

An epic and bruising encounter saw New Zealand head in at half-time having seen try-scorer Jerome Kaino sent to the sin bin, while four penalties from Handre Pollard saw the Springboks take a five-point lead.

The All Blacks showed their class as the match wore on, with Dan Carter's drop goal and Beauden Barrett try putting them ahead in a second half that saw South Africa's Bryan Habana sent to sin bin.

It was the second time the Springboks had seen a half-time lead overturned in a World Cup match, but they still replied with two penalties either side Carter's effort to bring themselves to within two points.

But New Zealand, unable to turn on the same sort of style shown in the win over France, remained firm in a compelling final 12 minutes to secure a place in their fourth final.

Argentina 15-29 Australia

The All Blacks will face bitter rivals Australia in the final, after the Wallabies held off an brave Argentina fightback to earn an impressive victory.

The Aussies raced into a 13-point lead thanks to a three-try blitz, including two from Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Argentina, who shocked Ireland in the quarter final, were not willing to roll over and hit back with five Nicolas Sanchez penalties, bringing them to within seven points of the Wallabies with just over 25 minutes to go.

But Australia, who edged past Scotland in last round in controversial circumstances, made their superior experience count with a hat-trick of tries putting them out of sight and seal a place in their fourth World Cup final.

Rugby Championship rivals Argentina, roared on by footballing legend Diego Maradona, will undoubtedly take plenty of positives from their performance, with the Pumas' explosive runners proving particularly impressive.

Bronze Match Preview

A close one to call; Argentina emptied the tank in the semi final and lost a couple of key players to injury, so we're predicting South Africa will take third place.

Final Preview

Given the history of rivalry between the two teams, it is a little surprising that New Zealand and Australia have never met in a World Cup final and this could be another chapter in what has been a tournament full of epic encounters.

No side has ever retained the Webb Ellis trophy, but the All Blacks are likely to be favourites, having proven themselves more than worthy of a place in the final.

All eyes are likely to be on All Blacks fly half Dan Carter in what will be his first, and last, World Cup final.

The instrumental 33-year old is due to retire from international rugby along with several other names, meaning this could well be a last hurrah for this New Zealand squad.

Australia are seemingly well aware of the task ahead of them, with coach Michael Cheika admitting they will need "something special" to triumph at Twickenham.

But Cheika, who has transformed the Aussies since taking over in October 2014, will be hoping his side can recreate some strong defensive performances against Wales and Argentina in previous rounds against arguably one of the most powerful sides in the world.

Number eight David Pocock has been crucial to his side's route to the final, offering plenty of quality at the breakdown to help offer momentum at key moments.

He currently has 20 turnovers in the tournament so far, forming a hugely effective partnership with back-rower Michael Hooper.

Pocock will have to be at his best again if Australia are to deny New Zealand historic back-to-back cup wins.

Our prediction? It will be close - neither team conceded a try in the semi final; defence and discipline will be key. Australia showed great finishing capability in the semi final, so we're predicting the Wallabies to win this, but only just!

 

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