SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: All Blacks v Argentina (Rugby World Cup 2023)
A spot in the Rugby World Cup final is up for grabs at Stade de France when the All Blacks take on Argentina in knockout semifinal on Friday night (Saturday NZT).
MATCH DETAILS: All Blacks v Argentina, Friday 20 October, 9pm CET. (Saturday 21 October, 8am NZT)
Won: All Blacks 33, Argentina 2, drawn 1
Last time: All Blacks 41, Argentina 12 (8 July 2023, Mendoza, Argentina)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Both teams have had similar roads to the semifinals. Like the All Blacks, Argentina dropped their first game before winning their next three to qualify second in their pool. Both teams were also taken to the wire in their quarterfinals with the All Blacks edging Ireland 28-24 and Argentina coming back from a half-time deficit to beat Wales 29-17.
All BLACKS SQUAD UPDATE
All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Jason Ryan and Joe Schmidt have made two personnel changes and one positional switch to the team that took part in last week’s quarterfinal. Samuel Whitelock and Brodie Retallick have switched roles within the match day 23 while Mark Tele’a and Samisoni Taukei’aho are the new faces, coming in for Leicester Fainga’anuku and Dane Coles. “Rugby World Cup playoffs are a series of finals,” said head coach Ian Foster. “We know that the intensity only increases as you progress through the knockout stages and we are preparing accordingly.”
CANE’S BATTLE CRY
All Blacks captain Sam Cane summed up the side's attitude ahead of the semifinal when saying: "There's two different Mondays we can turn up for next week, and one of them is horrible." That refers to losing to Argentina and then having to playoff for the tournament's bronze medal. To avoid that, the All Blacks must turn up mentally and be better than before he said. "There's plenty of us who have that hurt and scars from 2019 [when losing to England]. We took a massive step up at the weekend, but what we delivered last week might not be good enough this week so, our job is to prepare as well so that we can put in a better performance – personally and as a team."
Argentina head coach Michael Cheika has brought in halfback Gonzalo Bertranou for Tomás Cubelli in the only change from the team that beat Wales in the quarterfinal. There are seven survivors from the last Rugby World Cup semifinal Los Pumas played in 2015 against Australia – Matías Alemanno, Agustín Creevy, Facundo Isa, Tomas Lavanini, Nicolás Sanchez, Guido Petti and captain Julián Montoya.
ARGENTINA KNOCKOUT HISTORY
Argentina are into their third Rugby World Cup semifinal after reaching this stage in 2007 and 2015. They lost their semifinals on both occasions, going down 37-13 to South Africa in 2007 and 29-15 to Australia in 2015. The Pumas are one of only three teams, alongside Wales (three times) and Scotland (once), to have played a Rugby World Cup semifinal but never progressed to the final. They have only scored one try in a Rugby World Cup semifinal, courtesy of Manuel Contepomi in the 45th minute against South Africa at this venue in 2007. All 15 points against Australia in 2015 came via the boot of Nicolas Sanchez.
The winning score in both RWC 2019 semi-finals was exactly 19 points. Not since 2007 has a team scored 30 or more points in a semifinal, when South Africa defeated Argentina 37-13 at Stade de France. The biggest RWC semifinal victory belongs to the All Blacks, who defeated Wales 49-6 at Ballymore, Brisbane in 1987.
PRE-MATCH LIVE SHOW ON NZR+
Tune into NZR+ for the pre-match live show with Jim Hamilton and special guest pitch side at Stade de France. Stream the pre-match live show for free HERE.
All Blacks (caps in brackets):
1. Ethan de Groot (20) 2. Codie Taylor (83) 3. Tyrel Lomax (30) 4. Samuel Whitelock (151) 5. Scott Barrett (67) 6. Shannon Frizell (31) 7. Sam Cane (c) (93) 8. Ardie Savea (79) 9. Aaron Smith (123) 10. Richie Mo’unga (54) 11. Mark Tele’a (7) 12. Jordie Barrett (55) 13. Rieko Ioane (67) 14. Will Jordan (29) 15. Beauden Barrett (121)
Reserves: 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (28) 17. Tamaiti Williams (6) 18. Fletcher Newell (12) 19. Brodie Retallick (107) 20. Dalton Papali’i (30)21. Finlay Christie (19) 22. Damian McKenzie (45) 23. Anton Lienert-Brown (68)
1 Thomas Gallo 2 Julián Montoya (c) 3 Francisco Gómez Kodela 4 Guido Petti Pagadizabal 5 Tomas Lavanini 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez 7 Marcos Kremer 8 Facundo Isa 9 Gonzalo Bertranou 10 Santiago Carreras 11 Mateo Carreras 12 Santiago Chocobares 13 Lucio Cinti 14 Emiliano Boffelli 15 Juan Cruz Mallia
Reserves: 16 Agustín Creevy 17 Joel Sclavi 18 Eduardo Bello 19 Matias Alemanno 20 Rodrigo Bruni 21 Lautaro Bazan Velez 22 Nicolas Sanchez 23 Matías Moroni