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All Blacks v France RWC Final ?

All Blacks v France RWC Final ?

The first of the RWC 2003 semi-finals take place on Saturday as holders Australia take on arch-rivals New Zealand in Sydney (9am Irish time).

The first of the RWC 2003 semi-finals take place on Saturday as holders Australia take on arch-rivals New Zealand in Sydney (9am Irish time) with a place in the final against either England or France on offer.

Saturday’s pairing was the one predicted from the outset and while it would be totally foolhardy to write off the defending champions the smart money is on the Men in Black. Then on Sunday England and France are teed-up for a classic encounter with most neutral suport firmly in the corner of Les Blues.

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If Australia have one thing in common with England it’s that they have looked particularly unimpressive thus far in the competition. There is specualtion in the Aussie media that somehow or other the low-key performance of the title holders is some sort of clever ploy devised by coach Eddie Jones in order to engineer possibly the greatset ‘sting’ in the history of the game.

Speaking in The Australian Newspaper, leading Australian sports psychologist Clark Perry, who worked with Jones for three seasons at the ACT Brumbies, is quoted as saying. “I’ve worked with the top coaches on two continents over the past 20 years, and Eddie Jones is probably the greatest coach I’ve ever come across in terms of creating a grand plan. With Eddie, it’s not about the one-off matches but the success of the overall campaign.

“It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Wallabies come out in the semi-final and show us stuff we’ve never seen before. And then, if they get through to the World Cup final, to show us a whole lot of new stuff. He is just an exceptionally clever coach,” Perry said.

If as Perry suggests, Jones has managed to get his side to perform to a lower level then he is indeed an extraordinary coach but few would subscribe to that theory.

The Wallabies have looked quite an ordinary side and the chances are that John Mitchell’s side will make nonsense of the Perry theory.

The Blacks will attack the weak Aussie lineout and they have the strike runners behind the pack to rip apart what has looked a very mediocre Australian back division.

Games at this level btween this pair are norrmally close enough affairs but if the All Blacks get into their stride then they are capable of giving the Aussies a good hiding.

Last Four Meetings.
16 Aug 2003 New Zealand 21-17 Australia, Auckland (Eden Pk)
26 Jul 2003 New Zealand 50-21 Australia Sydney (Stadium Australia)
03 Aug 2002 New Zealand 14-16 Australia Sydney (Stadium Australia)
13 Jul 2002 New Zealand 12-6 Australia, Christchurch.

All Blacks.Mils Muliaina; Doug Howlett, Leon MacDonald, Joe Rokocoko, Aaron Mauger; Carlos Spencer, Justin Marshall; Jerry Collins, Richie McCaw, Ali Williams, Chris Jack, Reuben Thorne (captain), Greg Somerville, Keven Mealamu, Dave Hewett.
Reserves: Caleb Ralph, Daniel Carter, Byron Kelleher, Marty Holah, Brad Thorn, Kees Meeuws, Mark Hammett.

Australia: Mat Rogers; Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri, Stirling Mortlock, Elton Flatley; Stephen Larkham, George Gregan (captain); Bill Young, Brendan Cannon, Ben Darwin; Nathan Sharpe, Justin Harrison; Phil Waugh, George Smith, David Lyons.
>Reserves: Jeremy Paul, Al Baxter, Dan Vickerman or David Giffin (one to be omitted), Matt Cockbain, Chris Whitaker, Nathan Grey, Joe Roff.