Boks’ new semi-final threat

If the Springboks beat England on Friday they will probably meet Argentina in the semi-finals of the World Cup.

The Boks should play Wales in the quarters, who were absymal in the first half against Canada and should lose to the Wallabies in the key match of Pool B (despite it being in Cardiff).

Argentina are now favourites to beat Ireland and top Pool D, while on current form France should also be too good for Brian O’Driscoll’s men. That would see the Pumas play Scotland or Italy in the quarter-finals. Argentina have a great recent record against both those opponents, having won their last five matches against Scotland and five of their last six against Italy.

The Boks would expect to beat the Pumas in a World Cup play-off. Argentina’s forwards bullied France last week but it’s unlikely they’d do the same against the likes of Bakkies Botha and co. And while Argentina have won five out of their last six matches against France they have never beaten the Boks in 11 attempts. Considering both teams favour a conservative approach, it could come down to a kicking duel between Percy Montgomery and Felipe Contepomi.

Barring a bout of food poisoning, New Zealand will top Pool C and play France in the pick of the quarter-finals. Ironically, the match will take place in Cardiff, so the Tricolores will not have the benefit of home support.

The All Blacks would expect to continue their recent dominance against the Six Nations champions and meet the Wallabies in the semis. Stirling Mortlock’s side will have too much firepower for England’s world chumps.

That would, of course, result in two all-southern hemisphere semi-finals and ensure the Webb Ellis Cup goes south for the fifth time in six competitions.

Likely quarter-finals:
Australia vs England, Marseille
New Zealand vs France, Cardiff
South Africa vs Wales, Marseille
Argentina vs Scotland/Italy, St Denis

Likely semi-finals:
Australia vs New Zealand, St Denis
South Africa vs Argentina, St Denis

Likely final:
New Zealand vs South Africa, St Denis

By Simon Borchardt