Argentina never make it easy. Strong tackling, tight defense, but not enough to quality to hold off the All Blacks. Piri Weepu hit 7 penalties from 7 attempts, giving New Zealand the lead throughout the match except for a short moment in the first half, when Argentina scored a try. Kieran Read and a rare Brad Thorn try made it 33-10 for the World Cup hosts at the end, setting a Semi Final clash with the Wallabies.
The Pumas came out strong, flying in and tackling often, early and strong. New Zealand couldn’t get a running game going and were mostly involved in pushing and shoving on the ground. Argentina nearly surprised with a Fernandez Drop Kick, but it went just below the bar. Weepu opened the scoring shortly after with a penalty. The All Blacks began to get more comfortable, as Kieran Read had a try cancelled after his foot touched the line, as players started falling like flies, injured, including Colin Slade, a backup himself.
The All Black pressure continues, with Argentina proving how well and hard they defend, causing Piri Weepu to settle for another penalty, making it 6-0. Contepomi missed a penalty, and a home try was in the air. Out of nowhere, Argentina’s big man, Julio Farias Cabello broke through undisturbed, leading to some nice Contepomi juggling and eventually, a shocking Argentina try and lead by Cabello.
That didn’t last long, as the All Blacks kept pushing forward, gaining comfortable penalty spots and Weepu just couldn’t miss, making it 12-7 at half time.
Argentina got some back, and for a few moments were hopeful again. A huge penalty from Marcelo Bosch made 12-10 early in the second half, but that was the last of Argentina’s attacking attempts in the match. Weepu made it a two score lead in no time with more accurate kicking, and quicker All Blacks legs ran the Pumas down on defense. Richie McCaw also scored a try that was cancelled, but 10 minutes later Kieran Read scored and put the game beyond any doubt after a fine no look pass from Kaino.
Brad Thorn cleaned up with his fourth career test try, thanks to Cory Jane and Kieran Read’s work on the flank. So it’ll be the Trans-Tasman rivalry in the Semi Final, after Australia beat South Africa 11-9 prior to the All Blacks’ victory.
Australia did beat New Zealand this year in the Tri Nations, but haven’t beaten the All Blacks in New Zealand in over 10 years. They did beat them in the 2003 World Cup Semi Finals, making it 2 for 2 in World Cup matches (including a win in 1991).
The All Blacks are the favorites, and the Australian style might suit them better, opening things up a bit. Still, the All Blacks don’t have much order in their game right now, building on flair on individual brilliance, today coming from Cory Jane and Sonny Bill Williams. I don’t think the Wallabies will be giving so many comfortable penalties, or provide such a weak attacking threat.