PARIS, The City of Lights - The majestic Stade de France bore witness to an awe-inspiring spectacle as the indomitable All Blacks secured their ticket to next Saturday's grand finale in a dazzling, seven-try display, en route to what could be an unparalleled fourth Rugby World Cup victory.
In a whirlwind contest, the Argentinian side initially seized the spotlight with an early Emiliano Boffelli penalty. However, the All Blacks swiftly unleashed a breathtaking surge, with two mesmerizing tries within five minutes from the dynamic duo of Will Jordan and Jordie Barrett, sending shockwaves through the stadium.
Shannon Frizell contributed to the majestic performance, concluding the first half with a third scintillating try, and the irrepressible Aaron Smith graced the scoreboard early in the second period, extending the All Blacks' lead to an insurmountable level.
Frizell, thirsting for glory, notched his second, while Will Jordan, with an incredible hat-trick, etched his name alongside legends like Jonah Lomu (1999), Bryan Habana (2007), and Julian Savea (2015) by claiming an astonishing eighth try in a single Rugby World Cup campaign, firmly securing the All Blacks' place in their record fifth final.
Jordie Barrett, who rendered a colossal defensive effort, earned the illustrious title of Mastercard Player of the Match, and, with elation in his voice, declared, "It's so sweet, it's special times."
Captain Sam Cane, in sheer admiration of his comrades, praised, "I thought our forwards did an outstanding job; our set-piece was impeccable. We owned the mauls and earned valuable penalties, exerting relentless pressure on the valiant Argentinians."
In stark contrast, Argentina's captain, Julián Montoya, humbly conceded that they were outclassed, saying, "An awesome team, they were unquestionably superior today. We must reflect upon our set-piece and the errors we made. At every opportunity, they converted, and we need to delve deep within ourselves."
The brilliant tactician, New Zealand head coach Ian Foster, acknowledged Argentina's early onslaught, stating, "They hurled everything at us from the outset. Our defensive resilience held firm, and when the ball was in our possession, we executed devastatingly. Those three or four crucial minutes before half-time were pivotal; those eight points endowed us with a critical buffer."
The All Blacks now prepare to return to the luminous Stade de France next Saturday, bracing for a momentous showdown against either South Africa or the nemesis from the 2019 World Cup, England. Jordie Barrett emphasized, "We stumbled at the semi-final juncture four years ago. Our mission isn't complete yet."
Even in defeat, Argentina's head coach, Michael Cheika, rallied his troops for one last glorious battle, affirming, "We yearn to return home adorned with a medal. Next week's Bronze final is monumental for us. Tonight stings, for we genuinely believed we could leave our mark, and the agony lingers."
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]