VENUE & TIME
St Denis, France. Monday, October 15, 5am (AEST)
HEAD TO HEAD
Played 11. South Africa 11, Argentina 0
November 5, 2005 (Buenos Aires) South Africa 34-23 Argentina
Yet to be announced but both are expected to field the same sides as last week.
South Africa has been one of the form teams throughout this Rugby World Cup but having said that it has been troubled by Pacific Island nations Tonga and Fiji. The Boks were odds-on to win their quarter-final last week but Fiji had them on the ropes at 20-20 late in the second half. Only a superb rolling tackle from JP Pietersen saved the Fijians going in front with a try before disciplined play from the Boks saw them score two late tries to seal the match. They have had the upper hand over the Pumas over the years and should go into the match as favourites - not that it seems to count for much in this RWC.
Argentina has been the surprise packet of the tournament so far. From their shock opening win over France the Pumas have strung five straight wins together to make it to the RWC semi-finals for the first time. They possess an astute kicking game and their backline is flamboyant, but that is backed up by a solid pack that will take the game to the Springboks. They will go in as underdogs but they are playing with so much passion it is hard to discount them.
Veteran forwards John Smit, Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha stood tall when their country needed them last weekend against Fiji. Matfield's inside pass for Pietersen's try was special and their work in the rucks is crucial. The evergreen Percy Montgomery is playing outstanding rugby, while scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and centre Jacque Fourie are also in fine form.
Pumas inside back trio of scrumhalf Agustin Pichot, fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez and centre Felipe Contepomi are playing inspired rugby. The interaction and kicking game of these three has kept opposition defences guessing and allows the Pumas to get on the front foot in games. Up front no one is in better form than big No.8 Gonzalo Longo Elia, who turned in a man-of-the-match performance against the Scots last weekend. Prop Rodrigo Roncero and lock Carlos Ignacio Lobbe are also in fine fettle.
The Springboks should have this one in the bag but that is a dangerous thing to say in this Rugby World Cup. The Pumas will take the game to the South Africans in the forwards and have the backline to score points but we feel they may be so chuffed at getting this far that they can afford to lose and still be happy - the Boks won't - they want 'Bill' and should have too much composure for their Southern hemisphere counterparts.
1. Os du Rant, 2. John Smit (c), 3. Jannie du Plessis, 4. Bakkies Botha, 5. Victor Matfield, 6. Schalk Burger, 7. Juan Smithh, 8. Danie Rossouw, 9. Fourie du Preez, 10. Butch James, 11. Bryan Habana, 12. Francois Steyn, 13. Jaque Fourie, 14. JP Pietersen, 15. Percy Montgomery
Reserves: 16. Gary Botha, 17. Guthro Steenkamp, 18. Johannes Muller, 19. Wikus van Heerden, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Andre Pretorius, 22. Wynand Olivier
1. Rodrigo Roncero, 2. Mario Ledesma Arocena, 3. Martin Scelzo, 4. Carlos Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 5. Patricio Albaceta, 6. Lucas Ostiglia, 7. Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe, 8. Gonzalo Longo Elia, 9. Agustin Pichot , 10. Juan Martin Hernandez, 11. Horacio Agulla, 12. Felipe Contemponi, 13. Manuel Contemponi, 14. Lucas Borges, 15. Ignacio Corleto
Reserves: 16. Alberto Vernet Basualdo, 17. Omar Hasan Jalil, 18. Rimas Alvarez Kaielis, 19. Juam Manual Leguizamon, 20. Nicolas Fernandez Miranda, 21. Federico Todeschini, 22. Mernan Senillosa
England v France
Clips from the 87, 91, 95 Rugby world cups.