The only other time Argentina reached the Rugby World Cup semi-finals they were pummelled by South Africa in 2007, but the current Pumas side is blessed with far more self belief and an expansive style set to push Australia all the way at Twickenham.
Playing the so-called ‘big three’ year-in, year-out in the Rugby Championship is paying enormous dividends for Argentina, who were better than the Northern Hemisphere’s best in the quarters.
Ireland were handicapped to a degree through key injuries, but in the end the Six Nations champions succumbed, as South Africa did this summer, to Argentina’s renewed attacking vigour.
The Pumas ran in four tries against Joe Schmidt’s charges, in a display which confirmed that the South Americans are no longer a one-dimensional outfit, happy to scrap up front and hope that forward power can scrape them over the line.
Only New Zealand, the opponents that lie in wait should they make the final, have scored more tries and in fly-half Nicolas Sanchez, who kicked 5/6 penalties and 4/4 conversions to help beat the Irish 43-20, the underdogs possess one of the finest boots in the competition.
It is a slight concern for Michael Cheika’s side that they have not been able to reproduce the kind of performance that dumped England out in the Pool phase since.
It was gritty stuff against Wales and although they ran in four tries themselves against the Scottish, conceding three themselves, as well as leaking 15 points in penalties, was anything but vintage from the two-time champions.
The eventual result is a very difficult one to call. However, given the Pumas have averaged 5.3 tries per match so far, backing them to run in over 2.5 more looks a sizzler at 11/4 with Ladbrokes.
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