10 Oct 2011

All Blacsks and Wallabies set up mouth watering semi-final

5:59 am on 10 October 2011

Hosts New Zealand and twice champions Australia set up their third rugby World Cup semi-final last night after the All Blacks defeated Argentina 33-10 and Australia scraped an 11-9 win over defending champions South Africa.

Battle will resume at Auckland's Eden Park next weekend where Wales will play France on Saturday followed by the All Blacks versus the Wallabies a day later for a place in the October the 23rd final.

The All Blacks, seeking their first World Cup since the inaugural 1987 tournament, lost to the Wallabies in the 1991 and 2003 semi-finals.

They will, though, be boosted by the knowledge that no side has won the Webb Ellis trophy after losing in the group stages.

Argentina, who finished third at the 2007 tournament after defeating hosts France in the opening match and the third place playoff, belied their first round form with a splendidly defiant performance against the All Blacks at Eden Park.

In the absence of the injured Daniel Carter, man-of-the-match halfback Piri Weepu calmed the fears of a nation willing their heroes to victory with seven penalties.

The All Blacks coaches were also relieved by the display of Aaron Cruden, their third choice first five behind Carter and Colin Slade, who left the field injured in the first half.

The third of the weekend's quarter-finals, between the Wallabies and Springboks, proved an indictment of the Springboks' sterility on attack.

They won 76 percent of the territory, 56 of the possession and stole five Australian lineouts and one scrum.

Despite this overwhelming advantage they could not score a single try.

In the end, the most significant statistic was the 147 tackles the Australians were forced to make to repel the most experienced South African side ever to take the field.