World Cup Semi-Finals – part 2

Interesting to compare the fortunes of last night’s semi-final coaches, after that magnificently ugly game. The winning coach looks to the final, the losing one to his next job – as minister of sport. Tonight the, surprisingly, unbeaten Argentinians take on the, also, unbeaten South Africans at the Stade de France – 8pm kick-off. Extensive coverage as usual online with streaming video, radio commentary and text at the Beeb, and possibly the Guardian. RTÉ’s preview this time goes against the favourites and predicts what would be yet another surprise win for the Pumas.. but I suspect that the Springboks might escape this time.. as does Michael Lynagh.. just. Eddie Butler, on the other hand, has been given a prediction

“A Welsh witch – her own words – told me in Paris that Argentina would win. ‘It has been deemed,’ she intoned. Why should I suppose to provide anything more rational?”

1st Half Early indications of the expected brutal battle between the forwards, and the testing kicking game from both sides. And Argentina seem to have the advantage. Until an interception brings the first try at 8mins. 32mins in Argentinian turnover in SA territory leads to a brilliant try for Habana. Half-time South Africa 24 – 6 Argentina. SA winning more set-piece play and Argentina showing plenty of enterprise and flair. But an error-strewn half which ends with the Pumas gifting the Springboks a 40th minute try. 2nd Half 44mins in. Video ref called in. And Argentina have a try. 65mins in. Lots of errors.. mainly from Argentina. 70mins in. Another penalty. 74mins in. And again. 76mins in. Habana interception again and another try. 78mins in. Smith for SA with a high tackle causes a row that threatens to spill over. Sin-binned. Followed shortly afterwards by Argentina’s Contepomi. Full-time South Africa 37 – 13 Argentina. Although, as Francois Pienaar pointed out, the final score wasn’t [necessarily] a fair reflection of the game. Errors and ill-discipline undermined the Pumas adventure but South Africa were winning more of the set-piece play.. although they were also error-prone and were definitely on edge in the first half. South Africa go through to meet the magnificently ugly English in the final. So much for Welsh witches..