England were embarrased, Wales were suffocated and now Rugby World Cup glory is a tangible prospect for Australia, who have the added motivation of retribution on their minds.
While most betting colours nailed to the mast at the quarter-final stages will be all-black, the Wallabies now rate as the most appealing choice to reign supreme on October 31st, priced at 9/4 on Ladbrokes.
In trouncing England at Twickenham in the pool phase, Australia didn’t just resign the Red Rose to premature World Cup oblivion, the Wallabies went 75 per cent of the way to exorcising a demon.
While none of those in the current team were on the field when Jonny Wilkinson sent that kick post-wards in Sydney, the entire Australian squad will not have forgotten the sense of despair that would have enveloped the nation at that precise moment.
Coming so close to winning rugby union’s most prestigious prize in their own country in 2003, before the Webb Ellis trophy was snatched away by their sporting nemeses no less, would have made defeat to England all the more unbearable.
Three World Cup cycles later and the stars could well be lining up for Michael Cheika’s side.
It’s not only that the men from Down Under have emerged victorious from the most treacherous Pool having scored the third most points, tries and penalties in the whole tournament, that signify their strength either.
Quarter-final opponents Scotland have been valiant in making the last eight, though South Africa exposed their frailties before a nail-biter win against Samoa was needed just to qualify.
Cheika’s side are 1/10 shots to hurdle the Scots, whom they have defeated in 17 of the last 19 clashes, and if they do then Ireland or Argentina lie in wait.
Ireland have already lost key personnel such as skipper Paul O’Connell to injury, while playmaker Jonny Sexton’s injury concerns ensure no chickens will be counted against a very dangerous Argentina side, who are making waves in the Test arena.
Australia’s relative health is unlikely to suffer in an expected waltz past the Thistle, meaning they look good bets to go into any semi-final showdown as the fresher side.
World champions New Zealand would be expected to be their Twickenham opponents for the final barring a momentous shock and even then, Australia have a recent win over the All-Blacks to point to in the build up to the World Cup.
Should the two-time champions make it that far, being able to celebrate World Cup glory in England’s backyard and complete the revenge mission, may just carry the Wallabies home.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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