New Zealand have taken their place in the final of the 2023 Rugby World Cup thanks to a convincing victory over an Argentinean side that looked short of ideas and inspiration.
The atmosphere prior to the match appeared rather dead compared to the fizzing intensity that proceeded the quarters. With France and Ireland out, it felt like the soul of the tournament had also boarded the flight away from the stadium and city.
The bass from the stadium speakers did its utmost to compensate for the lack of buzz around the stadium, but it was not until the ceremonial Haka did the rapturous applause from fans really fire up the arena.
Argentina started strong, taking the offense early and earning a penalty before the All Blacks could even really lay hands on the ball. It took seven minutes before the All Blacks finally got proper hands on the pig’s skin.
In true All Black fashion, though, the moment they were able to attack they threatened. Will Jordan quickly broke the All Black seal thanks to a looped pass from Mo’unga, who then sank the additional points himself. The scoreboard continued to tick thanks to Jordie Barrett riding through the Argentinean defence as if they weren’t there.
The match continued in a rather dreary fashion thereafter, however, with the slippery ball causing chaos out on the field. Approaching the half with only nine points between the two sides, Argentina decided to aim for the posts and reduce the deficit to six. This was shortly discredited following a penalty of New Zealand’s own and a try in the corner by Shannon Frizell.
The crowd jeered at halftime, all a bit dull, all desperately hoping for a better second half.
It appeared to be heading towards an interesting second half as Aaron Smith opened with a bit of pure magic, throwing a dummy pass and stepping roughly three people to score in the Argentina corner.
All hopes of a decent test match were in fact well and truly extinguished by the try, however. Argentina continued to offer little to no threat as they’ve done all tournament, while the All Blacks continued to plow on through another try by Frizell.
Changes are made on the 50 minute mark by Argentina, but a simple personnel change has proved far too little.
As the game etched it’s way to within 20 minutes of an Argentinian exit, the crowd started to get restless. Constant interruptions by the whistle and water breaks generated a crowd more interested in that around them rather than in front.
A final brace from Will Jordan sealed proceeding as he stepped over for his second and third of the game and his seventh and eighth of the tournament.