World Cup Semi-Final Preview 2 – Argentina vs South Africa


In a tough top draw, the script has been screwed up and thrown out, but in the lower half of the draw everything continues to go according to seedings, with the two top qualifiers disposing of the two second placed qualifiers, albeit a little unconvincingly.

Argentina have been billed as the surprise of the tournament, but in reality anyone that has been surprised hasn’t been paying attention for the past three years. With a solid pack, a big kicking five eighth and several gamebreakers in the outside, Argentina have set about forging themselves a formidable record in world rugby. Since the last World Cup the Pumas have defeated every one of the home nations at least once and in the three years leading up to the World Cup have suffered 3 defeats in 2005, 2 in 2006 and only one loss in 2007. 6 losses in 3 years stacks up well against all the top teams – Australia 14 losses, South Africa 11 losses, France 9 losses and England 16 losses. Only the All Blacks(3 losses) have lost fewer games in this timeframe. But that is exactly the point Los Pumas are trying to make – they are not taken seriously by the rugby playing world, and it’s about time they were.

So far victories over France, Ireland and Scotland at the world cup have shown that not only have the Argentinians got a side that can beat top tier nations, they have a side that can do it regularly. The formula changes a little when you talk about their performance against tri-nations teams. Argentina have beaten the wallabies just 4 times in 17 starts, their best result against the All Blacks was a draw in 1985 and significantly – they have played against the South Africans 11 times and been on the losing side every time.

But as England and France both showed last weekend, the form book, the statistics and the odds all mean little when you are playing knock out football, and what is important is that the Argentinians will believe they have every chance of knocking off the South Africans.

After a clinical start to the tournament and a near perfect dispatching of the English in pool play, the South Africans have been in cruise mode a little and seem to have quite a bit in reserve. Against Argentina it’s most probable they will need it. They certainly won’t be able to let the Argentinians back into the game the way they did against Fiji.

One positive of the All Black loss is to be able to watch games like this from a completely neutral standpoint, and this is one I am dying to see. South Africa and Argentina play a very similar style of game, and the deciding factors are likely to be discipline and experience. The South Africans certainly have the big game experience on their South American rivals, but one suspects that the swarming frustrating defense of the Argentinians may get under the South African skin and cause problems. The longer that Argentina stay in this game the more chance they have of cracking the South African side which does not like being stood up to.

In the end South Africa would have to be big favorites to get the victory, but don’t be surprised if you see the Argentinians play a more professional game than the South Africans, see a couple of yellow cards and the blue and white hoops into the final.


Source by Tom Scott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *