New Zealand stands on the precipice of etching their name in the annals of rugby history, potentially securing their fourth World Cup title — a feat yet to be accomplished by any other nation.
With an extra day to recuperate, the All Blacks look to be the team to beat in Sunday morning’s final against South Africa. The All Blacks have been installed a $1.80 favourite to win with Neds Australia, although South Africa ($2) are not out of the equation.
The All Blacks may have started the Rugby World Cup slowly, but they have now found their groove, with the 44-6 win over the Pumas the best they have played all tournament.
When Argentina took the field, they were met with a formidable opponent, eventually yielding seven tries.
Even on a day where the All Blacks might not have showcased their pinnacle performance, their uncanny ability to keep the scoreboard ticking, predominantly thanks to the unparalleled prowess of fly-half Richie Mo’unga, allowed them to control the game’s tempo from start to finish.
New Zealand’s arsenal also boasts the lethal Will Jordan, whose trio of tries propelled him past France’s Damian Penaud, making him the tournament’s top try-scorer. With a record-tying eight tries under his belt, Jordan graciously nods to the hard work of the All Black pack, recognizing their integral role in setting the stage for his success. It’s the All Blacks’ sheer precision in capitalizing on opportunities that truly sets them apart from the competition.
However, it’s worth noting the officiating by Australian referee Angus Gardner seemed skewed in favor of New Zealand, with a slew of first-half decisions going against Argentina. Such discrepancy in language and communication with English-speaking referees has been a recurring theme for Latin American teams, an issue that cries out for resolution.
The lopsided nature of this World Cup semi-final bout wasn’t the spectacle many had hoped for. While New Zealand has punched its ticket to its fifth World Cup final, it was devoid of the electric atmosphere that would have accompanied a match-up involving Ireland and Wales.
For Argentina, the absence of their Celtic counterparts was of little concern. They boldly faced the haka and initiated the game with slick ball movement that culminated in Emiliano Boffelli’s successful penalty kick. But the All Blacks, undeterred by the slippery conditions, recalibrated their strategy, opting for aerial play that eventually cracked Argentina’s defence, leading to a string of tries that solidified their dominance.
The second half of the game mirrored the first, with New Zealand relentlessly attacking, and Argentina grappling to keep pace. Although Argentina showcased resilience, the tide of the game was firmly in New Zealand’s favor.
The All Blacks, now with the title in their sights, are not just competing for the title, but also for redemption, having fallen short in the semi-finals against England four years ago.
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