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All Blacks Get Their ‘Tomorrow’ With Ruthless Rugby World Cup Semi Victory

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The All Blacks expressed their desire for a “tomorrow” throughout the entire week after this Rugby World Cup semifinal. It was a stormy night in Paris, and New Zealand won 44-6, mercilessly destroying Argentina because they wanted a memorable final week.

By the seventeenth minute, all chances of an Argentinean upset were far gone. On their second attempt, the All Blacks had a firm hold on the game, with the machine clicking with a merciless, recognizable efficiency. With a victory that hardly broke a sweat, New Zealand advances to their fifth men’s World Cup final.

Everything seemed inevitable at this point. Argentina’s supporters who were holding onto optimism that they would somehow pull off a repeat performance and outcome similar to their two historic wins over the All Blacks in 2020 and 2022 were abruptly dragged back to earth.

As clear favorites in this semifinal, New Zealand made a commitment earlier in the week to avoid a recurrence of the 2019 World Cup, when they were eliminated by England at this point. The guys in black shed tears that day and again last Saturday in this same stadium following their historic quarterfinal victory against Ireland. However, they expressed relief at having a chance for atonement.

The All Blacks’ camp had been talking all week about lessons learned while simultaneously trying to disassociate themselves from a story of redemption and instead center everything around potential and the future. They discussed wanting something more than the meaninglessness of a bronze medal match to be the cause of their excitement for Monday this time.

And that mindset was embodied in this performance. Their handling was spot-on, and their skill set was so polished that they made the technically challenging appear easy, from loosehead to fullback.

It must be very hard to stop that All Blacks wave when you have players like Sam Whitelock chucking passes out of his hand and props, locks, and back rows sweeping with the same comfort and ease as their outside backs. Then you add in Will Jordan, a merciless finisher who emerged victorious with a hat trick—only the third person to do it in a men’s semifinal, after Jonah Lomu and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Jordan kicked off the first of three tries scored by the All Blacks in the first half. They were all lessons in perseverance, accuracy, and patience.

Their first was a spectacular catch-pass play that put Will Jordan in the corner and sucked in the Argentine defense. With Whitelock at the center of both attempts, Rieko Ioane broke through an unorganized Pumas defense for their second, and Jordan ultimately put Jordie Barrett over as he skittled three Argentinean players to dot the ball down. The third goal, which virtually put an end to the game, was more patient play by Shannon Frizell, who had a clear run in. It was a lesson in drawing defenders in and creating space outside.

The Pumas had fought bravely up to this point, as they often do, but there had been no Marseilles miracle like the one they pulled off last weekend against Wales. They were unable to locate the answers this time. Argentina’s coach, Michael Cheika, patrolled the touchline at halftime and appeared irritated throughout the first half, possibly because to calls made by Angus Gardner that went against his team. However, seeing Frizell dot the ball down satisfied him enough, so he left down the tunnel.

Teams can benefit greatly from that 15-minute stretch at the interval, but Argentina did not recover. When Argentina was still readjusting their seats in the stadium in the 42nd minute, Aaron Smith kept his foot on his throat and darted over. From then on, there were glimmers of the Argentina side that so many love and cherish, but Frizell added another layer, and this was all New Zealand.

Boos heralding the end of the cascade, the Mexican Wave broke out at the 50-minute mark, but it was indicative of a dejected mood among the 77653 stadium patrons.

Periodically, the fans of Argentina burst into song; early on, there was a masterful performance by Les Marseilles; and the supporters of the All Blacks relished seeing their team cross all the right boxes on the way to another World Cup final.

The All Blacks emptied their bench, but they still had time for two more tries, which were scored by Jordan. His third try was an incredible effort, earning him a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on from Scott Barrett. From the first minute to the last, the All Blacks’ strategy was all about managing the load and experimenting with new combinations.

The All Blacks had suffered six losses in a row just over a year prior. Ian Foster’s job as coach was in jeopardy. They lost their opening match against France and suffered a record defeat to South Africa going into this World Cup. In certain quarters, they weren’t being discussed in the same sentence as France or Ireland as probable World Cup winners. However, this team’s strength—or brutality—lies in their ability to perform at their best when it counts. This is about building to a crescendo when the chips are really down, pre-tournament form be damned.

If you were worried that they could have played their World Cup final a few games too soon in their historic victory over Ireland, you need to reconsider. This was as polished a performance as you’ll see in a semifinal, and New Zealand will be hoping to make it four straight World Cups for their men when they play next weekend. As if that were ever in doubt, the All Blacks’ resounding victory guaranteed them a “tomorrow” and a final to prepare for.

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