New Zealand v Argentina LIVE: Rugby World Cup 2023 latest updates as All Blacks hunt semi-final win

Argentina vs New Zealand

Argentina No.8 Facundo Isa will earn his 50th test cap when he starts tonight.

He made his debut in 2014 against Scotland, earning his first 25 caps within two years, before returning to the team in 2019 to earn his last 24 caps.

This will be his first test against the All Blacks since 2020.

Harry Latham-Coyle at the Stade de France

“It’s been a day of sunshine and showers in Paris, with a rainbow bending over the Stade de France as I arrived a couple of hours ago.

“This grand old arena isn’t quite bouncing like it has been for the hosts and Ireland over the last few weeks, but there are a healthy amount of New Zealand and Argentina fans filing in.

“A fast start is key, you feel, for the Pumas – they didn’t at all manage to get into gear in the Rugby Championship meeting between these two earlier in the year – and let the All Blacks get ahead and Ian Foster’s side might just romp away with it.”

Argentina vs New Zealand

Wing Will Jordan has scored 28 tries in 29 tests for the All Blacks.

His first career try came against Los Pumas in the 2020 Tri-Nations, scoring a double off the bench in just 15 minutes of game-time.

He has not scored against them since that day.

Argentina vs New Zealand

Argentina’s Nicolás Sanchez has scored the second-most points of any test player in rugby history against the All Blacks with 151.

Only Australia’s Matt Burke has scored more against New Zealand (176). Sanchez has not missed a shot at goal at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, kicking all 11 attempts.

How Argentina reached the Rugby World Cup semi-final

Louis Rees-Zammit leapt for the corner and came down with an anguished cry. A scrappy contest always looked likely to be a game of inches – and the Wales wing had come up agonisingly short.

By the end, there were bodies strewn all around the Stade Velodrome, the damage of a demolition derby all too clear to see. Argentina won’t remotely care. Their win was made secure at the death, replacement fly half Nicolas Sanchez plucking an intercept score from opposite number Sam Costelow to take Argentina out of sight. Ireland or New Zealand await in the World Cup semi-finals – the challenge is mighty but Los Pumas live to fight another day; Wales are going home.

Earlier in the day, the travelling Welsh fans had brought Marseille’s Vieux Port to a standstill with a most harmonious warbling of “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”; but there was little mellifluous about a discordant contest that most would have expected from two sides with such obvious flaws. When eyes were not turned to the sky, they were often focused on the floor as the two sides took chunks out of one another in a brutal battle on the gain line.

Argentina scrap their way to semi-finals as Wales come up short

Wales 17-29 Argentina: Nicolas Sanchez’s intercept try proved decisive as Los Pumas edged a brutal battle in Marseille

How to beat the All Blacks: Harry Latham-Coyle outlines 3 key areas Argentina must target in World Cup semi-final

3) Getting Mateo Carreras involved

For a side that possesses plenty of pace and penetration in wide channels, Argentina do not play to width often: the Pumas have passed more than ten metres away from the ruck at the third least frequent rate in the competition. It is unlikely to see them stray too far from that strategy but this is surely not a time to die wondering: some attacking invention will be required against a team so capable of scoring quickly.

In the pair’s Rugby Championship meeting, Argentina were blown away in the first quarter, kicking away plenty of early possession and unable to get a foothold in the game. Perhaps it might be wise to test the edges of New Zealand’s defence early – Mark Tele’a, back in the All Blacks side after missing out last week due to a disciplinary issue, can be an inconsistent defensive reader, sometimes drifting up too soon and leaving space for a miss pass.

Boffelli could see plenty of ball on the right touchline, and will also have a major role to play building scoreboard pressure from the tee. But getting Mateo Carreras’s hands on the ball more often should also be a focus: the wing is averaging a carry only every 13 minutes in this tournament, compared to every 5 and 7 for New Zealand’s Tele’a and Will Jordan.

How to beat the All Blacks: Harry Latham-Coyle outlines 3 key areas Argentina must target in World Cup semi-final

2) Disrupting the All Blacks’ lineout

Plenty of focus, as ever, will be on New Zealand’s attacking game but it is the All Blacks’ lineout that has been most clearly a cut above the rest at this tournament. Their hookers have missed just a single throw across this tournament, giving them the security and certainty of set-piece ball off of which they can launch their attacking plays.

There are signs that things may have been held back for the knockout rounds, too. Take Will Jordan’s score in the quarter-final: the All Blacks rarely use a four-player lineout but identified that Ireland might be vulnerable defending at the tail without their standard defensive lineout structure.

Ireland elected not to compete as Brodie Retallick was hoisted at the front, ensuring a quick transfer back to Aaron Smith, whose typically rapid pass found Richie Mo’unga. With the midfield defence focussed on the phalanx of forwards waiting to Richie Mo’unga’s left, the fly half stepped subtly inside and drove at the line, with Will Jordan in the sidecar on his inside. Josh van der Flier had widened out too far, with Mo’unga darting past the flanker’s tackle attempt, accelerating into space and flicking to Jordan to race into the right corner.

Argentina will not want to risk something similar, and simply have to try to get their paws on Codie Taylor’s throws. A wet ball may help, and the Pumas may be able to call upon a bit of inside knowledge – Pablo Matera is out of the tournament with his injury but has remained with the Pumas squad. The flanker spent the 2022 Super Rugby season with the Crusaders, playing alongside Taylor, Scott Barrett and Sam Whitelock, and under forwards coach Jason Ryan, considered key in transforming New Zealand’s pack over the last 16 months or so. The calls will be different but Matera could pick up on some clues.

How to beat the All Blacks: Harry Latham-Coyle outlines 3 key areas Argentina must target in World Cup semi-final

1) Protecting Santiago Carreras

New Zealand are crossing the gainline more than 60% of the time, better than any other side at this World Cup. Argentina simply cannot allow the All Blacks to consistently win collisions and build up a head of steam.

There is reason to hope, though, with Argentina behind only Fiji, South Africa and Georgia in terms of dominant tackle percentage at the World Cup. Their two recent wins against New Zealand, meanwhile, were both built on ferocious defensive showings.

In Christchurch last year, Argentina particularly excelled in that regard, making 192 of their 200 tackle attempts. Marcos Kremer, an under-the-radar standout performer at this World Cup, made 26 tackles that day; Michael Cheika may need something similarly heroic from his openside in Paris.

“It’s quite simple – our defence needs to be perfect,” said wing Emiliano Boffelli. “To beat the All Blacks, we need to play a perfect game. I have faith in the team. I remember that game in Christchurch, where all of our tackles were effective, all of the players were getting organised and back into place. I think we can do it again.”

Marcos Kremer (right) and Santiago Carreras are two key figures for Argentina

They also protected fly half Santiago Carreras cannily in that win – the playmaker had just two tackles to make, with inside centre Matias Orlando making 16. The All Blacks managed to make Johnny Sexton take plenty of punishment last week – the veteran ten made 11 tackles, perhaps contributing to what looked a slightly fatigued performance in the final quarter. Keeping Carreras clean could be key in getting the attack clicking.

Cheika might have considered giving the abrasive Matias Moroni a start at inside centre, but the coach has backed Santiago Chocobares after the Toulouse midfielder was cleared of concussion. He will have a key defensive role to play if New Zealand again try to wear down the opposition fly half.

L’agony! France in despair after World Cup exit – but Paris party can reignite rugby

Even the skies are sorrowful. On Wednesday morning the heavens opened, the pitter patter on Paris pavements a strange, solemn sound after a month-and-a-half in which this Rugby World Cup had basked in sunshine.

As the two semi-finals move closer, the forecast grows grimmer – after France’s exit at the hands of the Springboks on Sunday, the clouds and a rugby nation weep.

Welcome to a Paris party to which the hosts are no longer invited. After a thrilling quarter-final weekend, one that it would not be an overstatement to describe as this ailing sport’s greatest ever, the World Cup woke up on Monday morning confronting a future without the home side, the tournament’s final fortnight stripped of the partisan popularity that could have brought that extra va-va-voom.

L’agony! France looks to reignite Rugby World Cup after crushing exit

From Calais to Cannes, there was a feeling that, like the football World Cup team in 1998, this was finally the time for Les Bleus. But despite the bitter disappointment of that extraordinary quarter-final exit, Harry Latham-Coyle finds there’s plenty hope that the final fortnight won’t fizzle out without the pyrotechnics this thrilling tournament has delivered in spades

Argentina coach relishing chance to face New Zealand

Argentina coach Michael Cheika will relish seeing his side reach the Rugby World Cup final by beating the All Blacks in the semi-final on Friday.

“We knew the first game would be a bit rough for us. We learned a lot because there were a lot of first-time World Cuppers in there.

“They [his players] learned a lot from that game in terms of handling what is knockout footy in what wasn’t knockout footy – every game since has been knockout.

“Even in that game against England, we showed a lot of fight, but we didn’t handle the occasion well. We still gave it plenty. We have to remember in that game it was nine kicks, we didn’t give up a try.

“You have got to look at it with your playing roster, the team you are going to play, what the turnaround time is and just try and plan it out so it works to get a bit of flow.”

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