The more things change, the more they stay the same. It was largely expected that the Northern Hemisphere would do better at this World Cup, but it wasn’t to be as 3 out of 4 teams in semis are from the South. Bet Central looks at the key battles in these clashes.
Argentina vs New Zealand: Battle At 7
The 2 men who are likely to be influential in the forwards again this week are Marcos Kremer and All Blacks captain Sam Cane. The 2 flankers were outstanding last week for their nations on defence and attack.
Kremer was injured shortly before the World Cup began and as a result, he took a while to get up to speed, but his build-up from the pool stages saw him explode into action last week. If he gets close to the same standard as last week, he could propel his side to World Cup history.
In his way through will be a stubborn Sam Cane, the Chiefs man had one of his finest Tests in the black jersey last week against Ireland and he will be looking for more of the same again this week. The battle of these 2 workhorses will go a long way in determining who wins the war.
Argentina vs New Zealand: Centre Showcase
One is relatively new to the Test arena, the other is still completing his apprenticeship at the outside centre in the black jersey. Lucio Cinti going up against Rieko Ioane is a mouth-watering clash.
Both players have undoubted qualities but still have certain weaknesses and who exploits the other’s weakness better in the game is likely to help his team get over the line.
Cinti has sometimes lacked the physicality required in the centres and thus is not as penetrative as he should be at times. Ioane on the other hand sometimes fails with his defensive reada leaving himself exposed. Their attacking impetus should more than make up for the weaknesses though.
England vs South Africa: Big Men Upfront
For every captain, there is a supporting cast that helps with leading the team. For both Owen Farrell and Siya Kolisi, there is a level of faith in their hookers to not only play well but lead with the same proficiency.
Jamie George is a Test veteran now for England and there is no doubt about his ability to get over the advantage line as a primary ball carrier for England. He additionally adds set-piece stability and is a fine leader to call upon.
Opposite him is Bongi Mbonambi, a player who plays with a real fire in his belly and has shown time and time again that he is to be relied on in tough circumstances. In what should be a tight contest, both hookers will need to be disciplined and show grit in the battle for even the slightest advantage.
England vs South Africa: Contrasting Styles At The Back
Similarly, Freddie Steward is the epitome of reliable in a reliable player, steady under the high ball and with a big accurate boot, he comes back into the starting lineup for the more attack-minded Marcus Smith.
If he is to kick deep, his opposite number for the Springboks Damian Willemse will return it with interest as one of the most exciting ball runners in the game at the moment. Willemse’s ability to fracture the defensive line is unparalleled.
Both players bring their own style and will be efficient in their roles in the semifinal. Whoever executes their game better could see their team in the final next week.