NEW YORK, NY – Courtesy of of my new website, Americas Rugby News, a merger of talents between myself and other great writers, we present our recap of the semi-finals and prepare you for the RWC Bronze Medal Match.
New Zealand were able to fight off a very determined South Africa team. Australia were relentless as they pounced on Argentina. So the greatest display of Rugby will be two old foes and the bronze medal match will be between two long time friends.
So, as we head to an all Tasman final for the Rugby World Cup, here’s the Rugby Wrap Up recap of the semi-final weekend.
All Blacks holdoff valiant Springboks
New Zealand 20 – 18 South Africa
The reigning World Cup champions, New Zealand will return to the World Cup Final. Having held on to defeat South Africa 20-18 this afternoon in London the All Blacks are into a second consecutive Rugby World Cup final for the first time in history.
Standing in the way of New Zealand making history is an improved Wallabies team or a Pumas team that seemingly everyone is now talking about.
The All Blacks reached the final by seeing-off South Africa in an evenly fought contest in which rain played a notable part. Jerome Kaino’s first half try came early but would be the only score of the opening half.
It was a half in which New Zealand was the better side and the statistics suggested just as much with the All Blacks having far more ball. South Africa, though, held a 12-7 half time lead thanks to Handré Pollard’s goalkicking accuracy.
Despite missing Kaino who was serving a 10 minute yellow card offence it was the All Blacks who scored first after the interval. Dan Carter showed how much he wants to play in a World Cup final by taking a drop goal to cut the deficit to two points.
New Zealand then went ahead with replacement back Beauden Barrett scoring the second and final try of the game. Try try not only saw the lead change hands but saw South Africa reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes. The offendant was Bryan Habana who received a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on in the lead-up to Barrett’s try.
South Africa had opportunities to fight back and did land two second half penalties. When replacement fly half Pat Lambie landed a penalty it was Kieran Read’s fourth offence yet there was no yellow card. Ultimately a Carter penalty saw New Zealand remain in the lead and hold on until the end.
Wallabies too strong for Pumas
Australia 29 – 15 Argentina
Australia will play New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup Final on Saturday after defeating Argentina by four tries to zero in London today. All is not over for the South Americans who will play the Bronze Final against South Africa.
Coronados de gloria vivamos, O juremos con gloria morir. Words of the Argentine national anthem which in English translate to mean ‘We live crowned in glory or share to die gloriously’ are true of many a Pumas match and today was no exception. Los Pumas were eliminated but gave it their all, earning nothing but praise.
The manner of their play was to attack and it offered Australia opportunities too. Following a near intercept from Drew Mitchell Argentina did not earn the lesson as Rob Simmons intercepted a Nicolás Sánchez pass. Just two minutes in Australia led 7-0.
The frantic start from Argentina continued with Santiago Cordero knocking-on from a free-kick. Argentina, though, got back into Australian territory and opened their account in the 7th minute with Sánchez landing a penalty which followed a Marcelo Bosch break from a set move.
Yet to calm down Cordero attempted a quick tap from a mark call only to knock-on and hand Australia and attacking scrum. It proved fatal as Adam Ashley-Cooper latched onto a Bernard Foley pass to score in the right corner. Foley landed the extras to make it 14-3 after 11 minutes.
A second Sánchez penalty in the 24th minute narrowed the lead to 8 before referee Wayne Barnes yellow carded Tomás Lavanini for tackling without his arms.
A man down Argentina’s scrum held form with James Slipper penalized for a second time. A retreating Wallaby scrum, though, got back the ball minutes later and after mounding phases of attacks Ashley-Cooper dived over in the left corner for his second try.
Additional concerns for Argentina saw the team playing without captain Agustín Creevy who was replaced by Julián Montoya after 30 minutes. It was a second opening half loss after Juan Imhoff had also been forced off hurt, replaced by Lucas González Amorosino.
Lavanini returned in time for Argentina to be back to 10 points behind as Sánchez added his third. He returned not to an altered strategy but to one of more attack and Bosch and Cordero continued to threaten but a questionable knock-on call against their team let Australia off the hook. The resulting scrum collapsed but in their being no call from Barnes or assistant Jaco Peyper, Foley kicked the ball out to end the half.
Following an early second half Foley penalty miss Argentina got back into Wallaby territory and Sánchez cut the deficit with his fourth penalty. It came from a collapsed scrum with Slipper again singled out. Foley, though, found his target to respond with a 48th minute penalty.
Hot on attack Argentina continued to run everything and Sánchez made it 22-15 with another penalty. In the lead up Fardy had been penalized for cynical play on the floor but the officials opted against a yellow card. It may have been a turning point.
With 20 minutes remaining the difference was still seven but Daniel Hourcade had emptied his bench with Lucas Noguera Paz and Juan Figallo coming on. It threatened to see Argentina run out of gas but the South Americans played all the rugby in the following 10 minutes but in being unable to score Australia sealed the match with a third Ashley-Cooper try, Australia’s best of the match.
Foley added the conversion to go fourteen points clear as Hourcade held his head. With time running our Hourcade was in tears but social media was alight with comments of support for the man who took Argentina from 12th to 4th in the world in quick time.
Bronze Medal Match: One team will finish on a high.
South Africa – Argentina
This match is built up as the match no one cares about. However that maybe for those that aren’t purists. A test match is a test match and this is an opportunity for one of these teams to finish on a high.
Argentina will try and re-create the magic they played with when they were in this match in 2007. Meanwhile Heyneke Meyer and his Springboks will try and finish this tournament with a big win, something they have not had all tournament. Considering their earlier meeting this year saw the Pumas win on SA soil for the first time ever, there is some intrigue here.
Pumas fly half Nicolás Sánchez has been selected as captain for Argentina’s Bronze Final match against South Africa at London’s Olympic Stadium on Friday. He will lead a team featuring nine changes from last Sunday’s Semi Final.
Coming in at hooker is Julián Montoya for the injured Agustín Creevy. Montoya played 50 minutes vs Australia from the bench and will be the only specialist hooker in the Bronze Final. His replacement, if required, will be Lucas Noguera Paz, a specialist loosehead prop who can provide emergency hooker cover.
Ramiro Herrera retains his place in the front-row with Juan Figallo and Juan Pablo Orlandi both on the bench as cover. In the second-row Matías Alemanno comes in for Guido Petti who will be on the bench.
Back from injury to start at the back of the scrum is Juan Manuel Leguizamón. He will join Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe and Javier Ortega Desio in the starting back-row with Facundo Isa providing cover. Pablo Matera and Leonardo Senatore both drop out of the 23.
Tomás Cubelli returns to start in place of Martín Landajo at scrumhalf with Sánchez playing outside him in the same combination from Argentina’s opening World Cup fixture.
A new-look mid-field sees Jerónimo De la Fuente and Matías Moroni starting in place of Juan Martín Hernández and Marcelo Bosch, the former being injured and the latter dropped for Moroni. Hernández has been confirmed as having fractured a back bone in the Semi Final.
Both Santiago González Iglesias and Juan Pablo Socino will be on the bench covering the mid-field and fly half positions with Moroni set to move to wing if required. Coming in for the injured Juan Imhoff and Joaquín Tuculet in the back-three are veterans Horacio Agulla and Lucas González Amorosino with Santiago Cordero retaining his starting spot on the right wing.
Victor Matfield will lead South Africa in the final test match of his career this Friday as the Springboks meet Argentina in the Bronze Final at London’s Olympic Stadium.
He will join Eben Etzebeth in the second-row in what is one of two changes to the side that faced New Zealand in last Saturday’s Semi Final. The additional change sees Ruan Pienaar named at scrumhalf in place of Fourie du Preez.
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