Argentina v New Zealand: Rugby World Cup 2023 semi-final – live | Rugby World Cup 2023
40 mins: New Zealand boss the scrum and win a penalty, to nobody’s great surprise – and they want to add more points before taking a half-time breather.
39 mins: Cheika is heading for the tunnel as New Zealand prepare to put in at the scrum. If Argentina do turn this around, it’ll be the biggest second-half comeback in World Cup history – but they were 10 points down against Wales last week.
Richie Mo’unga goes for goal, stretching the lead back out to nine points with half-time approaching.
36 mins: After great defensive work from Isa and Kremer, Montoya concedes a penalty at the breakdown. He’s not happy with Gardner, but Argentina simply have to stop this flow of penalties – that’s seven in this half.
35 mins: Oof! At the resumption, González is rightly penalised for a reckless challenge on Jordan in the air. He gets a stern warning from the referee, and New Zealand will have a chance to add to their lead before the break …
Boffelli tucks the kick away, and the scoreboard looks a little brighter for Argentina now.
33 mins: Bertranou feeds the returning Isa, who gets over the gainline and tries to feed the ball back – but Jordie Barrett, lying offside, is in the way. Penalty advantage, but Montoya can’t find a way through at the line – and they settle for the kick.
32 mins: Argentina hustle into the opposing 22 for a sixth time – they really need to get something here …
30 mins: A cute diagonal kick along the ground from the Argentina No 10, Santiago Carreras, gets them some useful territory – but New Zealand handle the lineout and kick clear. Approaching 15 minutes without any scoring at all.
29 mins: Some of this in-game music is a bit strange – while the players set up for a scrum, “Supermassive Black Hole” blasts over the PA, turning the Stade de France into a mid-00s indie disco. In other news, Isa is able to return after his head injury assessment.
28 mins: After an exchange of kicks, Mo’unga beats Carreras in the air and lands on his feet – that was almost balletic – but Sam Cane then knocks the slippery ball on. The rain proving a real leveller, just as I predicted.
27 mins: After nine New Zealand phases, Jordan skips forward but Montoya is able to pounce and turn it over …
Here’s a look at Will Jordan’s sixth try of the World Cup. I think I might have scored from there*!
*I would drop the ball, 100%
24 mins: Scott Barrett – yes, he’s the brother of both Beauden and Jordie – gets called offside at the ruck. Argentina set up a lineout but then lose it, the ball tipped back to Aaron Smith …
23 mins: “I understand what you’re saying, I just see it differently,” says Gardner to Montoya as the Argentina captain complains about their latest breakdown penalty. The Pumas are in this game in terms of territory and possession, but are being held at arm’s length by New Zealand.
“Boffelli should just keep going for drop goals,” suggests Peter Gibbs. “They’re at the 22 often enough but eventually cough the ball up every time.” I’ve heard worse ideas, and George Ford might agree.
20 mins: There’s a pattern emerging here as Argentina get into a promising area, but concede the penalty after Pagadizabal basically carries Sam Cane downfield.
18 mins: Early change for Argentina, but it’s not Boffelli going off but Facundo Isa, who is replaced by Rodrigo Bruni. He needs a head injury assessment, while Boffelli has been able to continue.
The dance continues, the All Blacks twirling and whirling their way through whatever resistance Argentina can muster. It goes from Ioane to Mo’unga, via a spinning Sam Whitelock, before Jordie Barrett crashes through a weak tackle to cross in the corner. Mo’unga misses the conversion, though.
15 mins: New Zealand can switch so quickly from rock-solid defence to swaggering attack – demonstrated here as Rieko Ioane dances upfield …
14 mins: Argentina are warned that if they err at the maul again, there’ll be a yellow card. For now, they are back on the attack – but Sam Cane is on hand to turn over at the breakdown.
New Zealand keep the pressure on, a first maul successfully defended but a penalty conceded at the second. Argentina hold up at the line but Whitelock works the ball out of the back and a looping pass from Mo’unga is walked in by Will Jordan! Mo’unga adds the extra points.
8 mins: New Zealand opt for the corner – perhaps feeling the kick was too far out to be certain. After the lineout, Argentina are penalised at the maul again – and Gardner tells the captain, Julian Montoya, that it has to be addressed pronto.
Our man at the stadium …
7 mins: No joy this time as New Zealand hold up play and an Argentina player goes offside. From a lineout, Lavanini goes in at the side and it’s a New Zealand penalty. More worrying is an injury to Boffelli, who slides on the turf and takes a painful hit.
6 mins: Santiago Carreras kicks into the path of Mo’unga, whose response is collected by Mateo Carreras (no relation). He jinks through a tackle, Boffelli gets to the kick downfield and Argentina are rolling again …
Emiliano Boffelli is a long-range maestro, but doesn’t need those skills here with a simple kick on the 22. The Pumas score first!
3 mins: Argentina win the lineout and Kremer punches through the defence. The All Blacks concede a penalty and after trying to build on the advantage, they opt to kick …
2 min: A slick start from Argentina, rolling through the phases and inching into the New Zealand 22. After 14 phases, it’s turned over but Barrett’s kick to touch is miscued.
Angus Gardner, who has refereed wins for either side over their opponents tonight, gives the signal and Beauden Barrett kicks off.
New Zealand gather for the haka, with Sam Cane at the front. It’s ground-shuddering and ferocious, of course – it’s the haka – but Argentina link arms and stare straight back. Not quite the England “V” of 2019 but it’s taken the intensity up a notch.
Anthems time – both sung heartily by the players, but the intensity from the stands isn’t quite at the levels we saw last weekend. Not yet, anyway.
The teams are in the tunnel, under the lens of that slightly jarring 4K camera. Ian Foster has a tablet under his arm, while Cheika’s loosened tie is giving bank-manager-at-karaoke vibes.
I think “dazzling tries” might be at a premium given the conditions, notes Peter Gibbs. “Also, ITV introduced the panel as ‘two World Cup winners and Brian O’Driscoll’”.
Ouch! Peter also mentions that he’s watching the game in a camper van. Are you tuning in from a vehicle, or some other kind of portable accommodation? Get in touch.
The rain is falling heavily in Paris, which has been described as “a leveller” for Argentina. I’m not sure – if it comes down to kicking for territory and avoiding handling errors, that still might favour New Zealand.
Now, Argentina have only beaten the All Blacks twice in their history – but both victories were in the last three years, first in November 2020 and then last August in Christchurch. Juan Martín González, who starts in the back row tonight, got the Pumas’ only try in that game.
On ITV, Sean Fitzpatrick says the victory over Ireland was the culmination of a “14 to 16-month” rebuilding job from where the All Blacks were. As for Brian O’Driscoll, he simply says “it’s been a grim week.”
Still thinking about England v South Africa tomorrow? Here’s some preview reading:
Here’s Michael Cheika: “We know we’re heavy underdogs tonight, but as a team we believe in ourselves. The half-backs have been really good in training, I’m trying to play it horses for courses, this feels like the right game for Gonzalo.
What’s the game plan tonight? “Tackle hard, even spacing and a really good alignment … at the ruck, that’s where the war zone is. How you tackle dictates how well you can defend overall.”
If you’re hoping to see some dazzling tries tonight, you may be in luck – Will Jordan (twice) and Mateo Carreras (once) are both on this list. And how about that Argentina change kit? Woof.
Some pre-match reading for you …
Just one change from Cheika to the Argentina team that beat Wales, with Dragons scrum-half Gonzalo Bertranou returning to the starting fifteen and Tomas Cubelli dropping out of the squad entirely.
For New Zealand, Ian Foster reinstates Richie Mo’unga at fly-half, with Beauden Barrett returning to full-back. Winger Mark Tele’a also returns, while Ethan de Groot, Tyrel Lomax and Shannon Frizell start in the pack.
Starting XV: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Lucio Cinti, 12 Santiago Chocobares, 11 Mateo Carreras; 10 Santiago Carreras 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 1 Thomas Gallo, 2 Julian Montoya (c), 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela; 4 Guido Petti Pagadizabal, 5 Tomas Lavanini; 6 Juan Martín González 7 Marcos Kremer, 8 Facundo Isa.
Replacements: 16 Agustín Creevy, 17 Joel Sclavi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez, 22 Nicolás Sánchez, 23 Matías Moroni.
Starting XV: 15 Beauden Barrett; 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tele’a; 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith; 1 Ethan de Groot, 2 Codie Taylor, 3 Tyrel Lomax; 4 Samuel Whitelock, 5 Scott Barrett; 6 Shannon Frizell, 7 Sam Cane (c), 8 Ardie Savea.
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Aus), Karl Dickson (Eng)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
The quarter-finals served up one of the best Rugby World Cup weekends of all time – can the semi-finals compare? Well, the instinctive answer is perhaps not – after four tense, thrilling contests last week, both of these games kick off with clear favourites. Less charitable observers might argue we saw the semi-finals last week, and this round is a mere formality before an All Blacks-Springboks showdown next Saturday.
That, of course, does a disservice to unbeaten England (who face South Africa tomorrow), Argentina (who have been here twice before) and the whole concept of a World Cup semi-final. We’ve seen favourites fall here before, collapsing under pressure against opponents riding a wave of self-belief. New Zealand know that better than most.
The perpetual title contenders have fallen at this fence four times, memorably upset by France in 1999 and (to a lesser extent) England in 2019. New Zealand have racked up a 94-15 aggregate in their last two games against Argentina, but the scoreboard resets to zero for tonight. In Michael Cheika, the Pumas have one of rugby’s most canny operators – and there are parallels in how both teams got here.
Both teams lost their first game at this tournament, and regrouped in their own way. New Zealand fully released the creative handbrake while Argentina switched to knockout mode, grinding through must-win pool matches and carrying that momentum into the Wales game, which they won by 12 points – the biggest margin of the four quarter-finals.
New Zealand fought and won a ferocious battle with Ireland to get here – and that should neutralise any risk of complacency. They are the clear and undeniable favourites tonight but unlike Argentina, they have something to lose. This is a different kind of spectacle – a test of nerve the resurgent All Blacks are expected to pass, but a contest that might deliver the biggest thrill of all.