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Saturday, 8 October 2011

Argentina to be left Phelan the pain

Exactly a month after the first game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup by midday on Sunday we'll know the Semi Final line up as the second two Quarter Finals are played. Hosts and favourites New Zealand take on Argentina and South Africa are matched against Australia. Wales and France have already booked their place in the Semi's having defeated Ireland and England respectively earlier today.

The All Blacks take on Santiago Phelan's Argentina who are currently 8th in the IRB World Ranking's. Bookmakers have this one very one sided with New Zealand being offered at as little as 1/66 to win the match outright. Previous encounters between the two teams have been greatly one sided, New Zealand having never lost to against their opponents in 16 matches. We see no reason why the Los Pumas will put a halt to this run in Auckland on Sunday and predict a fairly comfortable victory for Graham Henry's side. If the challenge wasn't big enough for Argentina the news earlier in the week that inspirational captain Richie McCaw has begun to train again after recovering from a foot injury will only add to their headache, Zac Guildford however may miss the game due to an injury he picked up to his hamstring in training.

(The All Blacks welcome back captian Richie McCaw to the starting line-up)

During the pool stages New Zealand ran in 11 more tries than any other side (36), they played the pool stages with freedom but may need to start thinking more strategically if they are to add to their 1987 World Cup triumph. Argentina conceded just 3 tries in their 4 pool games and will look to keep this as tight as they did against Scotland and England. However New Zealand pose a totally different prospect, especially on home turf. Make no mistake New Zealand will win but by how many? We're confident they'll do it by 20+ points.

The other quarter final is much more evenly poised. the Wallabies taking on the Springboks in Wellington. South Africa are boosted by the news captain John Smit returns to the starting XV, the 103 times capped hooker had previously started the final pool match against Samoa on the replacments bench. Smit's introduction softens the blow to South Africa who are likely to be without Frans Steyn. Thirty year old Jean de Villiers the likely beneficiary, Bakkies Botha will definitly miss the contest and should South Africa progress it's unclear whether he'll recover to play any further part in the tournament.

Highly regarded coach Robbie Deans will be doing everything in his power to ensure that his talented young Austrailian side make it 5 victories on the bounce against thier Southern Hemisphere conterparts. The Wallabies bounced back in their final group game against Italy with a decent 26 point victory after one of the upsets of the tournament in defeat to the Irish in Auckland. Aussie prop Ben Alexander says the squad have bounced back and they have 'learnt their lessons'. Alexander attributes defeat in the main to their poor scrummaging which they have been working on in the run up to the quarter final against the South African's who, in recent times, have been dominant in the scrum. We think this is where the game will be won and lost, we favour the Australian's to nick it by a small margin, as they did back in August during the Tri-Nations (5 point winnning margin). The Wallabies can be backed at 9/5 to win by 1 to 10 points (Paddy Power).

Back New Zealand to beat Argentina on the alternative handicap (-20) at 1/2 (Paddy Power)
Back New Zealand to beat Argentina by 21-30 points at 23/10 (Paddy Power)
Back Australia to beat South Africa on the alternative handicap (-4) at 13/10 (Paddy Power)
Back Australia to beat South Africa by 1-10 points at 9/5 (Paddy Power)

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