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All Blacks blow Pumas away in shambolically poor World Cup semi

Ian Foster’s side utterly dominated a bad Argentina side.

Argentina 6

New Zealand 44

THERE WAS ALWAYS going to be a comedown after the titanic highs of last weekend’s two quarter-finals in Paris but this was shambolic.

The World Cup draw always looked like a major issue and this total non-contest showed it up in damaging fashion in a semi-final that the All Blacks utterly dominated. They were good, backing up last weekend’s win over Ireland, but this is not what a final-four World Cup game should look like.

The atmosphere was flat beforehand and for long spells during the game at Stade de France where fans were short-changed on a night when Argentina just never had the quality to make it compelling. 77,653 people forked out a huge amount of hard-earned cash to be here but they weren’t rewarded with a real battle.

You can only imagine how French and Irish players felt watching this, having been knocked out in the quarters. Their supporters must be truly miserable too.

Ian Foster’s New Zealand could only beat what was in front of them here and they did so in clinical fashion. As with their win over Ireland, they defended with grit. There weren’t quite any 37-phase passages but they regularly fought their way to turnovers at the end of long defensive stints.

In attack, the Kiwis were as ruthless as last weekend as they scored seven tries. Wing Will Jordan bagged a hat-trick, while centre Jordie Barrett, scrum-half Aaron Smith, and flanker Shannon Frizell [2] also dotted down. The superb effort finished by Barrett was the pick of the bunch as the All Blacks defended brilliantly, turned the ball over, countered, and finished in style.

aaron-smith James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Such was the All Blacks’ dominance, Foster was able to take Smith and fullback Beauden Barrett off after just 56 minutes, with the game already well and truly decided. A few other key men followed soon after ahead of next weekend’s final against South Africa or England.

Michael Cheika’s Argentina had plenty of possession and territory but they lacked any cutting edge on a disappointing night for attack coach Felipe Contepomi, whose charges just couldn’t unlock the Kiwi defence.

Advancing into next weekend’s decider is a major triumph for the Kiwi coaching ticket of Foster, Joe Schmidt, Greg Feek, Jason Ryan, and Scott McLeod. It’s a huge moment for captain Sam Cane too. As with Foster, he was under intense pressure at times in the past two years but the All Blacks have came good when it mattered most last weekend against Ireland.

Tonight, they didn’t need to be at their best but they had far too much skill, power, and nous for a mismatched Puma side. They march on in search of New Zealand’s fourth World Cup title. Here’s hoping that tomorrow’s semi-final is a much better watch. 

Briefly, it looked like it might be a contest as the rain cleared in time for kick-off in Paris. The Pumas applied pressure in the Kiwi 22 in the opening exchanges and took a fifth-minute lead as wing Emiliano Boffelli slotted three points after Tyrel Lomax’s tackle off the ball.

The Kiwis needed a big breakdown turnover from Jordie Barrett soon after when Boffelli batted a high kick to number eight Facundo Isa, who offloaded back to his wing as they surged into the 22.

Barrett pounced to win the breakdown penalty, then two further maul penalties followed, resulting in the New Zealanders’ first visit into Argentina territory. Typically, they took their chance as they earned another penalty advantage, then some slick passing allowed out-half Richie Mo’unga to swing the ball wide for Jordan to score.

will-jordan Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO Photosport / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO / Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Their second was a stunner of a try as the All Blacks countered after a brilliant 13-phase defensive set ended with Mark Telea making a clean turnover. Rieko Ioane broke out of the Kiwi 22, Telea was soon bursting down the left into the Pumas 22 and there are a beautiful string off offloads in midfield. 10 phase in, Jordan put Jordie Barrett into space out on the right and he battered through Boffelli to dot down.

The Kiwis led 12-3 with only 16 minutes gone and the game was already in danger of getting away from Argentina. 

They had further trips into All Blacks territory but the black wall of defence looked comfortable, with captain Cane winning a turnover and Sam Whitelock stealing a lineout.

Boffelli was able to close the gap briefly five minutes before half time with his second penalty, but Los Pumas were immediately under pressure from the restart as Isa took out Jordan in the air, then skipper Julián Montoya was pinged for going off his feet at the breakdown. Mo’unga took the three from in front of the posts.

And New Zealand essentially finished the game as a contest by scoring their third try with the clock in the red. A scrum penalty against tighthead Francisco Gómez Kodela invited Foster’s men back into the Pumas 22 and, once again, they were lethal.

Initially, they struggled for momentum but wing Telea slipped past five defenders close to the ruck when he looked well covered. He was stopped a couple of metres out but Mo’unga was able to slip Frizell over in the corner for a 20-5 lead.

Any doubts about the contest being over were smashed within 90 seconds of the second half getting underway. The Kiwi scrum earned penalty advantage wide on the right and from 20 metres out, Smith danced inside opposite number Gonzalo Bertranou and then beat wing Santiago Carreras for a try that was equally about Smith’s brilliance and more poor Argentinian defence. 

beauden-barrett-celebrates-after-will-jordan-scores Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

New Zealand’s fifth followed swiftly, with Mo’unga dummying and slicing through initially and then Frizell forcing his way over from close-range. Mo’unga’s conversion made it 34-6 with half an hour still left.

A flurry of substitutions slowed the Kiwis up but Jordan crossed in the left corner for their sixth try in the 62nd minute, the bench impact from the likes of loosehead prop Tamaiti Williams beginning to show.

Scott Barrett was sin-binned with 15 to go, unable to resist playing the ball while off his feet in a ruck, giving referee Angus Gardner an easy decision.

Even still, the Kiwis continued to dominate. Jordan bagged his hat-trick score in the 73rd minute as he broke out of his half on first-phase of a lineout play, chipped ahead, and regathered for a fine solo try to wrap up this facile win.

Barrett didn’t even bother to come back for the last five minutes as the Kiwis finished with 14 players by choice. That said it all.

Argentina scorers:

Penalties: Emiliano Boffelli [2 from 2]

New Zealand scorers:

Tries: Will Jordan [3], Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizell [2], Aaron Smith

Conversions: Richie Mo’unga [3 from 7]

Penalties: Richie Mo’unga [1 from 1]

ARGENTINA: Juan Cruz Mallia; Emiliano Boffelli, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares (Matías Moroni ’64), Mateo Carreras; Santiago Carreras (Nicolas Sanchez ’66) , Gonzalo Bertranou (Lautaro Bazan Velez ’51); Thomas Gallo (Joel Sclavi ’67), Julián Montoya (captain) (Agustín Creevy ’64), Francisco Gómez Kodela (Eduardo Bello ’51); Guido Petti, Tomas Lavanini (Matias Alemanno ‘HT); Juan Martin Gonzalez, Marcos Kremer, Facundo Isa (blood – Rodrigo Bruni ’20 to ’30, permanent ’64).

NEW ZEALAND: Beauden Barrett (Damian McKenzie ’56); Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane (Anton Lienert-Brown ’61), Jordie Barrett, Mark Telea; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith  (Finlay Christie ’56); Ethan de Groot (Tamaiti Williams ’56), Codie Taylor (Samisoni Taukei’aho ’51), Tyrel Lomax (Fletcher Newell ’56); Sam Whitelock (Brodie Retallick ’61), Scott Barrett  (yellow card ’65); Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane (captain) (Dalton Papali’i ’65), Ardie Savea.

Referee: Angus Gardner [Australia].

The 42 is the home of game-changing Rugby World Cup coverage. Click here for their trademark analysis, sportswriting, and all of the latest news from France 

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