They beat Argentina by 33-10 but the match was much tougher than the score-line might suggest. Though New Zealand had some positives from the game, such as Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith combining brilliantly in the centre, Argentina exposed the All-Blacks vulnerability and showed that the hosts were not unbeatable, by any stretch.
In the other quarter-final, Australia beat reigning champions South Africa 11-9 in a tense game in Wellington, in what was a recurrence of the “curse of the defending champions”, which has meant that no team has ever retained their World Cup title in the competition’s history.
Wallabies captain James Horwill score the solitary try of the match in which possession was dominated by the Boks and much credit must go to an organized Wallabies’ backline.
Ahead of the game, All-Blacks fly-half Stephen Donald and winger Hosea Gear are to replace Mils Muliaina and Colin Slade. Muliaina has a fractured shoulder while Slade, who replaced Dan Carter at No. 10, in the semi-finals against Argentina, is carrying a groin injury. Gear, who played in this year’s Tri-Nations, was left out of the original world cup squad.
Slade is likely to be replaced by either Aaron Cruden, Donald or Piri Weepu, at No.10. Weepu was New Zealand’s hero in the Argentina game, and took over kicking duties in Carter’s absence, in the process, scoring 7 penalties for 21 points converted .
All Blacks coach Graham Henry has announced that Cruden would feature as fly-half in New Zealand’s semi-final game with Australia on Sunday. In some good news for Henry’s wards, Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui have returned to match fitness, ahead of the clash in Auckland.
If you believe in omens you might like to consider this one: at every world cup from 1991 onwards, the team that won beat the defending champions. If that continued to hold true, then the Wallabies should be favourites, considering that they beat the reigning champions, South Africa, in the quarter-finals. Dan Carter’s absence hurt New Zealand in the quarter-finals against Argentina, and it is expected to hurt them against Australia.
To beat Australia, New Zealand will have to raise their game; the Wallabies beat the All-Blacks in the recent Three-Nations tournament and underscore the talent they bring to the playing field. And they are sure to exploit any chink in New Zealand’s armour. That said, the All-Blacks continue to be bookies favourites to win the cup, attracting odds of 8/13 as opposed to Australia’s winning odds of 4/1.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.