The Junior Wallabies have snuck past hosts Argentina at the Under 20 World Championship in a thrilling semi-final that featured delays, a red card and a penalty try to book their ticket to the final.
The Australians put in one the performances of the tournament, playing the entire second half with just 14 men after halfback Michael McDonald was sent off at the end of the opening stanza for a high tackle, his second yellow card of the first 40 minutes.
With a lightning delay before the game and heavy rainfall threatening to derail the match before it even started, it was the Wallabies who got off to the better start.
Flyhalf Ben Donaldson was a late addition to the run on side after a head knock in their final pool match against England ruled out Will Harrison. He got off to the right start, slotting the opening points of the game with an 11th-minute penalty goal.
Just nine minutes later McDonald got his first taste of the cheddar, spectacularly flipping Argentine Manuel Bernstein in a nasty tackle, sending the big man to an awkward landing on the top of his shoulders, only avoiding a straight red after the referee deemed Bernstein to have jumped into the tackle.
Joaquin de la Vega Mendia slotted the ensuing penalty goal to even things up.
Flanker Harry Wilson was quick to make sure the one-man advantage didn’t cost them, crashing over with some beautiful support play up the middle to re-take the lead, before Mendia sunk a second penalty goal before McDonald returned to the field.
Continuing to dominate the first half spectacle, McDonald crossed for the Wallabies’ second try of the game after coming back on, but quickly turned villain once again just before the halftime break.
With barely a minute on the clock, the number 9 was shown his second yellow for a high tackle on the left edge that prevented a near-certain try for the home side, resulting in a red card and a penalty try to bring the score back to 17-13 at the break.
It was all the Wallabies in the second half despite the numerical disadvantage. They opted to play without a winger as they kept the Argentinians scoreless in the second stanza, a superb try-saving tackle from Isaac Lucas preventing the hosts’ only notable chance.
Lachlan Lonergan and Donaldson both crossed the line to break the game open and take the contest away from the opposition. A second penalty goal for the match to Donaldson was the only other scoring play of the second 40 minutes, the Junior Wallabies running away 34-13 winners.
It marks just the second time in the history of the competition that Australia has made the final. They now prepare to take on defending champions France on Sunday morning at 4:20am (AEST).