No feats, no thrills of uncertainty. The first semi-final between three-time world champions New Zealand and its favorite victim, Argentina (two wins in just 36 matches), confirmed what we had suspected before and during the World Cup: there were indeed two worlds. No. 4 in the world and the others, were grouped in the other, less expensive half of the table, due to an early draw, made three years ago by World Rugby’s distinguished strategists.
This Friday, an efficient All Blacks side, although not 100%, easily saw off a Pumas side who would have considered themselves very happy to be here. It was certainly triumphant, driven by a Parisian arena committed to its cause – with the family of Federico Martin Aramburu, that former Argentine international who was murdered last year by members of the far-right, coming to their support – Michael Cheika’s side were both extremely chaotic in attack and guilty of the decisive generosity behind it. , hoping to reach his first world final.
The twisted scenario hopes lasted for ten minutes. Evidence of the confidence that drives these New Zealanders: instead of imitating the Argentines who opened the scoring with their feet, Jordie Barrett opted for a penalty kick a few moments later to better demonstrate physical superiority with carried balls. Aaron Smith finds a gap in front of the inexhaustible Will Jordan, who took advantage of the offer to score a hat-trick and surpass Frenchman Damien Penaud as the player with the most attempts in the tournament (8).
Too cautious – perhaps wanting to avoid a repeat of the many attacking mistakes they made in the previous round against Wales – the Pumas played too slowly, too sweetly when it was certainly necessary to take more risks in the first quarter of the match. When it happened next, the dream was already over. Despite everything, Argentina produced some good sequences with the ball in hand, but the Black Curtain witnessed other experiments during the competition, and knows how to reinforce the barbed wire when the attackers point their noses a meter from the goal line.
If the Pumas kept the New Zealand camp busy in the first period, it was also because the Blacks were less popular than usual. As for those accustomed to starting with their feet on the ground (France and Ireland remember this) this time they struggled to escape the Argentine vise. The timid first touch that Jordie Barrett found under pressure so briefly suggests these Blacks can be scrappy.
But over the past week the group has been making sure they have come down from their Irish cloud. They shattered the words “to caution”, “vigilance” And “respect” In front of microphones with the necessary decorum. Scrum-half Aaron Smith is particularly evocative of memory “painful” In the semi-finals he lost to England (7-19) four years ago in Japan when the selection was already the favourite.
Therefore, the blacks were keen to end the match at the end of the first act. The match ends there: after 10 phases of play, winger Mark Tilia broke a complete pivot to lock down the South American, to be concluded by Shannon Frizell from the third row, who would give another goal after returning from the locker room.
The second period is just a long, drawn-out solo ride. Especially as it begins with a dazzling new performance from Aaron Smith, once again delicious in the orchestration and in the intervals on the Dionysian grass. Quite the opposite of his counterpart Gonzalo Bertrano, although he was returned to his position by coach Michael Cheika, who played a match exhausted and random in his choices, before he was substituted half an hour before the end. Beaten in clashes, dominated in the ranks and thanks to the speed of the black full-backs, the Argentines witnessed a final 40 minutes of absolute torture. The only thing that is ultimately uncertain is whether these countries will finally succeed in a settlement. Missing. Worse still: Even after being spared by a friend at the age of 14, the blacks managed to beat a fatal meter from Will Jordan’s race car. We’re now at minute 73, and some of the audience hasn’t even watched it. They had already left the aisles of the stadium, which at the start of the match had about 2,000 empty seats.
Without being the most anticipated, at the expense of many expectations, the 2023 All Blacks have reached the final. The fifth in their history, in ten editions. usually. The luxury of great nations. All without losing a single player, as Ian Foster allowed himself to blow the tires at the end of the match. It won’t be much for next Saturday. In contrast, England, or outgoing world champions South Africa, will face each other on Saturday. This time it should be completely different.