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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Quarter-Final Round-Up: ‘Boks And Pumas Make Last-Four

Quarter-Final Round-Up: ‘Boks And Pumas Make Last-Four

After the two shock results on Saturday, Sunday’s World Cup quarter-finals largely went to plan as South Africa, now the sole Tri-Nations representatives left in the tournament, and Ireland’s conquerors Argentina both won their respective matches to set up a semi-final clash at the Stade de France next Sunday.

WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Sunday, October 7

SOUTH AFRICA 37 FIJI 20, Stade Velodrome, Marseille (Att: 57,500)

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Scorers: South Africa: Tries: Jaque Fourie, John Smit, JP Pietersen, Juan Smith, Butch James; Cons: Percy Montgomery 3; Pens: Francois Steyn, Percy Montgomery
Fiji: Tries: Vilimoni Delasau, Sireli Bobo; Cons: Seremaia Bai 2; Pens: Seremaia Bai 2

South Africa claimed a hard-fought win over outsiders Fiji in Marseille on Sunday afternoon to remain on course to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time since 1995. The Springboks were made to work hard for this win though, harder than they might have expected as the Fijians bounced back from being 13-3 down at the interval to square up the game at 20-all.

With experienced scrum half Mosese Rauluni, Fiji’s skipper, in outstanding form, the Islanders brilliantly exposed the ‘Boks defence for two converted tries while they were down to 14 men.

Bustling centre Seru Rabeni was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Butch James, but Fiji succeeded in scoring two tries in little over two minutes’ play. Seremaia Bai, who was standing in at out-half for knee injury victim Nicky Little, converted both and after Percy Montgomery had put the ‘Boks 23-20 in front, Fiji missed two decen try-scoring chances.

Lock Ifereimi Rawaqa just failed to ground the ball as he pushed to the side of the in-goal area and off a close range ruck, the returning Rabeni knocked on as the Fijians edged closer and closer to the ‘Boks’ whitewash.

Rauluni said afterwards: “When we did score those two tries, we were pushing at their line but unfortunately we knocked on and they got back down to our half and scored a pushover try. A few little mistakes changed the game.”

Montgomery missed his opening shot at the posts but young centre Francois Steyn made amends with a superb penalty goal from 53 metres out.

Bai levelled for Fiji and both sides showed plenty of attacking ambition and the Fijian lineout, a point of weakness in previous games, was operating well with the Islanders winning the first five of hooker Sunia Koto’s throws.

But a kick to touch and a quick recycle off a close range lineout allowed South Africa notch their first try when scrum half Fourie du Preez popped a pass out to the left for centre Jaque Fourie to cross.

The conversion was missed and Fiji were gaining some decent territory with Rauluni releasing his big ball carriers – Koto, Sisa Koyamaibole, Rabeni and Akapusi Qera – to good effect.

However, Fiji’s defence was breached just five minutes before the break when a South African maul got up a head of steam and captain John Smit piled over the line. Montgomery’s missed conversion left the score-line at 13-3 in the ‘Boks’ favour.

Fiji opened the second half’s scoring with a neat penalty strike from Bai, but the game looked to beyond Ilie Tabua’s side as Victor Matfield fed JP Pietersen for another South Africa try, this time dotted down behind the posts for an easy conversion.

Rabeni then saw yellow rather harshly, but using the skills honed in the sevens game, Fiji worked themselves back into contention.

Big winger Vilimoni Delasau spotted his chance on the left flank, brilliantly chipping over the South African defence and with the cover marked absence, he raced on to touch down the loose ball.

Bai made it a seven-pointer and just two minutes later, the out-half linked with the fast-breaking Norman Ligairi who brought Fiji out of their half. He found Rauluni and he shrugged off two tackles to send winger Sireli Bobo hurtling over for one of the tries of the tournament.

It was breath-taking stuff. The ‘Boks held their nerve though and had a touch of fortune when Rawaqa missed out in the left corner. Some clever kicking from out-half James got Jake White’s men back on the front foot.

It took two late tries to put the result beyond doubt. With the Fijians almost out on their feet, flanker Juan Smith, who scored off a rolling maul, and James, who scurried over past two tiring front rowers, both touched down to confirm the ‘Boks as the new favourites to win the World Cup.

WORLD CUP QUARTER-FINAL: Sunday, October 7

ARGENTINA 19 SCOTLAND 13, Stade de France, Saint-Denis (Att: 80,000)

Scorers: Argentina: Try: Gonzalo Longo; Con: Felipe Contepomi; Pens: Felipe Contepomi 3; Drop: Juan Martin Hernandez
Scotland: Try: Chris Cusiter; Con: Chris Paterson; Pens: Dan Parks, Chris Paterson

Leinster’s Felipe Contepomi played a pivotal role again for Argentina as he guided his country through to their first ever World Cup semi-final.

Contepomi, recovered from a bout of ‘flu, kicked 11 points and allied to a try from Gonzalo Longo and a Juan Martin Hernandez drop goal, it was enough to book the Pumas a crunch meeting with South Africa next Sunday.

Speaking afterwards, Scotland coach Frank Hadden said: “Argentina had a stranglehold on the game and they are very difficult to play against. They were a lot more mature in their decision-making around the ball but our young fellows will learn from that.

“We didn’t play well enough. All credit to Argentina, they made life difficult for us.”

Neither side gave much away in the opening quarter at the Stade de France, the ground where Scotland almost helped Ireland win the Six Nations last March and where the Pumas shocked France in the World Cup’s opening game.

Contepomi missed a kickable penalty in the 14th-minute, allowing Scottish out-half Dan Parks to kick his side in front three minutes later. The Pumas got back on terms soon after when a high tackle on Hernandez by Nathan Hines saw Contepomi fire over.

The exchanges up front were fiery throughout with neither side willing to give an inch, although the Pumas were winning the battle of the boot with Contepomi bisecting the posts in the 29th-minute to give his side the lead.

With six minutes left in the half, number eight Longo then created a try out of nothing as he charged down an attempted clearance kick by Parks and beat both Sean Lamont and hooker Ross Ford to the ball to touch down.

Contepomi converted and the Dublin-based player also managed to cancel out a 38th-minute penalty from Chris Paterson with one of his own – his third successful kick of the half.

His fourth followed shortly after the break as the Pumas went 16-6 in front. Scotland dug in but they got no return for their hard work when a poor penalty kick from Parks dropped short of the uprights.

Hernandez picked off a lovely drop goal, continuing where he left off against Ireland, to put 13 points between the sides coming up to the hour mark.

Scotland made some telling substitutions in the final quarter and paved the way for one of them, replacement scrum half Chris Cusiter, going over for a try in the left corner.

The build-up was key as Craig Smith and Paterson made intelligent runs and the ball was quickly recycled for Kelly Brown, who did well to stay in play near the left touchline, to feed Cusiter with the try-scoring pass.

Paterson succeeded in converting it and it was all set up for a grandstand finish at 19-13. Hadden’s charges gave it their all in their push for another try, using their front eight to bash forward, spreading it wide and sending up cross-field kicks, but it was not to be and Argentina deservedly held on for their fifth successive victory at this World Cup.