Argentina v New Zealand - Three key contests

Argentina v New Zealand - Three key contests

In Friday’s first semi-final at Stade de France, Argentina play at this stage for the third time, after previous appearances in 2007 and 2015, while New Zealand are in a ninth RWC semi-final.

Marcos Kremer has been ever-present in Argentina’s run to the last four, starting all five of their matches. He tops their tackle charts with 55 - 16 more than fellow back-rower Juan Martin Gonzalez, the only other Puma to have started every match - five of them dominant.

Sam Cane had a frustrating start to this RWC, a back spasm ruling him out of New Zealand’s first two pool games including the opener against France, before making his return off the bench against Italy and belatedly making a first start in their final pool match against Uruguay.   

But the All Blacks captain made up for lost time in their epic quarter-final victory over Ireland, making the most tackles – 21 - of anyone on the pitch in a hugely influential display some observers believe was up there with his best ever in a black jersey.

Santiago Carreras was selected as a full-back four years ago at RWC 2019 and ended up playing in four games on the wing, but after switching to the playmaker role for his club – English side Gloucester – and country over the last two years, he has relished the responsibility at this RWC.

While Los Pumas have varied their strategy with plenty of attacking kicks, the pace and running threat of Carreras have remained an important element in their run to the semi-finals, the 25-year-old having made 46 carries across his four starts, and a late replacement outing, in the tournament.

Richie Mo’unga has proved himself a master of the fly-half trade at this RWC, showing his repertoire on opening night against France with a series of pinpoint attacking kicks, a try-saving tackle and an impressive range of passing. 

His devastating break in a classic quarter-final, exploiting a rare gap in the Ireland defence, created a superb try for Will Jordan and the 29-year-old's ability to keep the opposition defence guessing with his all-round skillset is likely to be a key factor in this semi-final.

Both teams have full-backs who are very happy to launch attacks from deep, but Juan Cruz Mallia started his test career at centre – scoring two tries from there in his only appearance at RWC 2019 – before finding his home in the number 15 jersey over the last two years.

The 27-year-old has carried the ball more often – 44 times - and made the most metres (381) of any Los Pumas player in this tournament.

His New Zealand counterpart Beauden Barrett, a 2015 RWC winner and two-time World Rugby Player of the Year, shows no signs of slowing down.

The 32-year-old has also been his team’s top ball-carrier (49) and made the most metres (488) of any All Black at this RWC, while the sometime fly-half’s attacking kicks are a major weapon.

Latest News