By Maxx Steinmetz
The first of the knock out rounds is now over, and the battle between northern and southern hemispheres has been decided.
South Africa v. Wales
Wales was looking to have once again held off their adversary in a world cup match, despite their massive list of injuries to key players as they lead South Africa 19-17 match. They lost the attritional battle however in the 75th (of the 80 minute game time) minute as the Springbok captain Fourie du Preez dove over the tryline to send South Africa into the semifinals.
New Zealand v. France
The All-Blacks answered their critics against the French in resounding fashion. They returned to form and, as one commentator said “This is a master class from the Kiwis!”
At the end this bloodbath of a match, the score stood at 62-13, the most points that the French have ever conceded in test match rugby.
Argentina v. Ireland
Los Pumas of Argentina are perennial dark horses of this tournament, and were thusly expected to lose to the Irish, whose fans had witnessed the New Zealand butchering of a quality France, making their presence known by singing “Fields of Athenry.”
While the Irish were certainly motivated by their countrymen, injuries and suspension were something that they could not contend with. Argentina stole the game 43-20, leaving many to argue that even if key players weren’t injured that the Irish would have lost anyway.
Australia v. Scotland
The last hope of the european nations, Scotland had the task of scalping the Wallabies of Australia, a task they had accomplished in two of the teams last three meetings. At the half the score of the skirmish stood in favor of the Scots, 16-15.
Australia was able to pull ahead in the second half, however, due to a yellow card being given to Scotland winger, Sean Maitland.
With the score at 32-26, the rain began to pour. The Scots, believing perhaps some “divine intervention” was afoot, began cheering to push their heroes on. Mark Bennett picked off a poor quality pass from the Australians and ran in for the try, which after being converted by Greig Laidlaw, gave Scotland the lead. 32-34.
In the last minute, in a decision that World Rugby deemed “incorrect” referee Craig Joubert gave a penalty to the Wallabies, which Bernard Foley was able to put through the posts and thusly break Scottish hearts.
South Africa will be facing New Zealand, and Argentina will take on Australia — as all the northern hemisphere countries have been sent home packing by the powerhouses of the Rugby Championship.
I expect we’ll be watching a New Zealand v. Australia final on Halloween, and a battle for third place between South Africa and Argentina the day before.