July 24th, 2024

All Blacks crush Argentina 44-6 to reach fifth Rugby World Cup final

By Jerome Pugmire, The Canadian Press on October 20, 2023.

PARIS – New Zealand bulldozed through Argentina 44-6 on Friday to reach the Rugby World Cup final for a record fifth time.

The All Blacks will bid for a record fourth title against defending champion South Africa or England, who play their semifinal on Saturday.

Right winger Will Jordan scored three of the All Blacks’ seven tries to become the tournament leading scorer with eight, while flanker Shannon Frizell grabbed two tries in a clinical demonstration.

The first-half tries came from Jordan, center Jordie Barrett and Frizell at Stade de France. Scrumhalf Aaron Smith, Frizell again, and Jordan twice more completed a lopsided contest.

New Zealand got here the hard way, making 226 tackles to see off Ireland 28-24 in a cliffhanger quarterfinal last weekend. Los Pumas rallied to beat Wales 29-17.

Argentina’s early lead through Emiliano Boffelli’s penalty was not a sign of the close semifinal to come. The Pumas succumbed to their 34th defeat in 37 meetings against the All Blacks and fourth in World Cups.

New Zealand scored its first try after 11 minutes.

Lock Sam Whitelock, who has reached an unprecedented third final, linked up well with the backs. The ball was moved right and Jordan caught flyhalf Richie Mo’unga’s looping pass over the defense.

Following a turnover, quick passes opened up Argentina and Jordan turned provider for Jordie Barrett, who bounced off two tackles before rolling over into the same right corner. Mo’unga converted the first, missed the second.

The Pumas hit back when No. 8 Facundo Isa returned from some treatment and, after a couple of big carries, Boffelli’s second penalty closed the gap.

Mo’unga’s penalty made it 15-6 then Frizell walked over for the third try. Wing Mark Tele’a broke through five tackles and was held up near the tryline, before Smith and Mo’unga set up Frizell. Mo’unga’s conversion attempt hit the left post.

Two minutes into the second half, Smith darted outside of opposite number Gonzalo Bertranou and inside left winger Mateo Carreras for the fourth try. Exhausted defenders could not prevent Frizell burrowing over for the fifth. Mo’unga converted both as the scoreboard kept ticking over.

Replacement scrumhalf Finlay Christie set up Jordan in the left corner as he moved past France winger Damian Penaud as the tournament’s top try scorer.

The only downer for New Zealand was Scott Barrett’s yellow card with 15 minutes left for knocking the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands.

Even with a player less, the All Blacks tore through midfield and Jordan collected his own kick ahead for a hat trick.

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AP Rugby World Cup: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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