New Zealand stayed on course for a record fourth Rugby World Cup title as scoring machine Will Jordan grabbed a hat-trick of tries in a 44-6 drubbing of Argentina in the semi-finals on Friday.
The All Blacks pummelled the Pumas in a one-sided game at a fairly quiet Stade de France through tries by Will Jordan (3), Jordie Barrett, Shannon Frizell (2) and Aaron Smith to set up a showdown with defending champions South Africa or England.
Argentina showed good attacking intentions, but repeatedly hit the black brick wall while New Zealand scored with apparent ease, and Michael Cheika’s team only got on the scoreboard with two first-half penalties by Emiliano Boffelli.
The Stade de France atmosphere was in sharp contrast to that of the France v South Africa and Ireland v New Zealand quarter-finals, with the decibel levels staying modest throughout the match in an anti-climatic moment for the tournament.
“We came here wanting to be in the final. I’m incredibly proud of the way we played tonight, we got great composure, very strong, so pretty pleased,” New Zealand coach Ian Foster said.
“We stayed in the game, we were able to punish them a little bit. We’ll enjoy tonight but wake up tomorrow and get back to work.”
Argentina captain Julian Montoya could only survey the damage after the Pumas’ third semi-final loss.
“Every opportunity they have they score,” he said.
“Awesome team and they were the better team by far. Today, we were far from our level. I am gutted and really disappointed at that.”
Talk of an unlikely upset, after Argentina beat New Zealand just over a year ago, was brutally dismissed way before halftime as Ian Foster’s team scored two early tries and never looked back in a powerful performance.
Argentina were rewarded for their early dominance with a penalty which Boffelli slotted over but it was the only time they led.
New Zealand scored on their first foray into the Argentina camp as Jordan touched down after being found unmarked on the right wing.
The All Blacks were way too fast ball in hand and Jordie Barrett added a second try, barging through his tackler and over the line.
Argentina stayed afloat thanks to Boffelli’s second penalty but Mo’unga restored the All Blacks’ nine-point lead with a routine penalty and Frizell strolled over the line after good work by Mark Telea on the stroke of halftime.
Argentina’s slim hopes of a comeback were nipped in the bud early in the second half as it took New Zealand only two minutes to score their fourth try through the impeccable Smith.
Frizell powered over and Richie Mo’unga kicked his third conversion to extend the lead as New Zealand edged inevitably closer to a record fifth World Cup final.
Jordan dived over again to become the tournament’s leading try-scoring after Foster had sent on all but one of his replacements, probably looking ahead to next weekend’s final.
The All Blacks were reduced to 14 men when lock Scott Barrett picked up a yellow card for slapping down the ball from the Argentina scrumhalf.
It did not prevent Jordan from touching down for his eighth try of the tournament – two more than France’s Damian Penaud.
Mo’unga did not appear to try too hard to convert, missing chance to claim the biggest World Cup semi-final winning margin the All Blacks set against Wales in 1987 (49-6).