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Rugby World Cup Semi-Finals Preview


South Africa vs New Zealand

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After a nightmare start to the tournament, South Africa have gradually improved and now look like the experienced, world class team that many expected them to be before the tournament started. Since their defeat to Japan, the Springboks have gradually improved and after topping their group they beat Wales in a nail-biting quarter-final to book their place in the last four. Giving away penalties has been a problem for South Africa throughout the tournament, but they look like a good attacking unit and their ability to score tries and perform to the end of the match may be crucial.

If there were any doubters as to how good this New Zealand side is before the quarter-final against France, there won’t be any more. New Zealand never looked overly impressive in their group, although they still won all four of their games easily enough. However, against France they took their game to another level and destroyed their opponents, wearing them down in the first half and then cashing in during the second half. If New Zealand perform like they did in the quarter-final, they may well be unstoppable.

While New Zealand should win this match and book their place in the final, South Africa have an outside chance. Both teams performed well in the quarter-finals, but it was New Zealand who really caught the eye and although South Africa are a better side than France, it is unlikely that they will be able to cope with the All Blacks if New Zealand perform to the best of their ability. This game could be close, but New Zealand should prove too strong and book their place in the final.

Argentina vs Australia

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Argentina sprung something of a surprise in their quarter-final match against Ireland after securing a relatively comfortable victory to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time. Argentina’s attacking style of play has been eye-catching throughout the tournament, and it will be interesting to see if they can replicate their form against one of rugby’s toughest defences. Argentina will have to be on top form to have any chance of winning, but they will be encouraged by Australia’s poor showing against Scotland and will be hoping to cause another upset in the knock stage of the tournament.

Australia had navigated a difficult group easily, beating Wales and England to set up a favourable quarter-final tie against Scotland. However, they had to rely on a controversial referring decision to see them through as they beat Scotland by the narrowest of margins. Although the Australia defence had looked solid all tournament, Scotland scored points freely and this may have put doubts in the minds of the Australians. They will have to raise their game significantly, but if they can return to the form they showed earlier on in the tournament they will feel that they have a chance.

Before the quarter-finals, Australia will have been confident of making the final of the World Cup. However, they will now be less confident and if Argentina get off to a good start then their confidence will be damaged further. Therefore whoever is leading at half time might go on to win this game. Although it will be close, expect Australia to have too much for their opponents and book their place in the final, although the margin may be narrow.

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