New Zealand thump Argentina to book another World Cup final appearance

New Zealand thump Argentina to book another World Cup final appearance

New Zealand booked an unprecedented fifth World Cup final appearance after blowing away Argentina 44-6 at the Stade de France.

A week after successfully emerging from an thunderous quarter-final against Ireland, this resembled more of a training ground exercise for the All Blacks against opponents who were a shadow of the side that edged out Wales.

Instead, this was the Argentina that laboured through Pool D in a poor advert for the weaker half of the draw and the World Cup in general as a muted atmosphere watched New Zealand plunder seven tries.

Worryingly for either South Africa or England, who meet in Saturday's second semi-final, they will face a side who barely broke sweat and whose bench had been emptied with 14 minutes to go.

Wing Will Jordan ran in a hat-trick to lift him above France's Damian Penaud as the World Cup's leading try scorer on eight, placing him level with Jonah Lomu's record of tries scored in a single tournament.

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It was an impressive feat that underlined New Zealand's attacking genius, but they were assisted by willing victims who were mesmerised by the shapes unfolding in front of them.

Jordan struck from the All Blacks' very first drive downfield when defenders sucked in by carries after a line-out maul presented an overlap that provided a simple run in.

It began to look grim for Argentina when Jordie Barrett went over, finishing a try that began deep inside New Zealand's half with precise handling and clever running lines resulting in attackers pouring into space.

Emiliano Boffelli's early penalty was already a distant memory as Argentina were repeatedly overrun at the breakdown with Sam Cane their chief destroyer, while any attack was met with an impregnable wall of black shirts.

A spell of battering away on the line produced only another Boffelli penalty when there was a sense far more would be needed to halt New Zealand's march towards the final.

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Patient All Blacks play paid off when they renewed their assault, methodically working their way into a threatening position and when the moment came they pulled the trigger, Mark Telea almost crossing before Shannon Frizell strolled over.

It was becoming a procession and while the favourites were being looked on favourably by referee Angus Gardner at times, there was no denying their ascendency in every facet of the game.

Aaron Smith was the next over via a brilliant step, exploiting a Pumas maul defence that was short on manpower, and then even Frizell muscled his way over despite the attention of three would-be tacklers.

Jordan moved past Penaud with New Zealand's sixth try and his hat-trick score in the 74th minute was a thing of beauty as he slipped through a non-existent Argentina defence, gathered his own kick and scored.

When the final whistle blew the Pumas sank to their knees, aware they had not shown up on only their third semi-final appearance.

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