It’s the pointy-end of the 2015 rugby world cup, with only four teams from a starting field of 20 in contention to lift the prized Webb Ellis cup – Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
In Australia, most interest will be on the second semi-final, held at the mind-numbing hour of 2am Monday AEDT, between the Wallabies and Argentina’s Pumas.
Business Insider ran the ruler over the form of the two teams and, based on history at least, the Wallabies should romp it in.
According to data supplied by ESPN Scrum stats guru, the two teams have played a total of 24 times since 1979. Of those, the Wallabies have won 18, lost 5 and drawn once – a pretty convincing record.
From a for and against perspective, the Wallabies have racked up 644 points against the Pumas, an average of 27 points per game, compared to just 372 points against.
Recent form in particular suggests it would be an enormous upset if the Pumas get up, with only one victory over Australia in the past 18 years, a close 21-17 win at their home fortress of Mendoza in October last year, but that was just before coach Michael Cheika came aboard and transformed the team. In 10 other games since 1997, the Pumas have left the field empty-handed.
While history is not on their side, upsets can and do occur – just ask the Springboks when they took on Japan in the pool stage, and the Irish, who succumbed to an abnormally attacking Pumas outfit last weekend.
The greatest prize in rugby is only up for grabs every four years, and that turn easybeats into world beaters, as plucky French, considered also-rans in 2011, showed when they came within a whisker of upsetting the short-priced favourites, New Zealand, on home turf in Auckland.
Given the form the Pumas displayed in dismantling a very good Irish team, coupled with injury clouds over Wallabies stars Israel Folau, David Pocock and Scott Sio, the result is likely to be a far closer affair than history suggests.
The physicality of the Argentine pack means Sio’s scrummaging and Pocock’s ability to pilfer ball at the breakdown will be particularly missed if they not be passed fit to play.
Regardless of whether they play or not, Australia will be cheering the Wallabies on. If national productivity is a little down on Monday morning, it will be worth it.
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