Scotland, 2015 Rugby World Cup

It's an all-southern hemisphere affair in the semi-finals of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina all sealing a place in the last four, with some doing so with more drama than others. Here's our rundown on the weekend's action and a quick look at what to expect now the tournament has reached the semi final stage.

South Africa 23-19 Wales

A 75th minute try from veteran scrum-half Fourie du Preez was broke Welsh hearts in a predictably bruising and compelling encounter at Twickenham on Saturday.

Dan Biggar's penalty gave Wales a one-point lead heading into the final ten minutes, but despite a superb defensive display from captain Sam Warburton, were powerless to prevent a superbly powerful South African pack.

A clever move from a scrum deep in their own half saw number eight Duane Vermeulen feed Du Preez, who exploited a rare hole on the blind-side of the Welsh defence to dive over in the corner and end Wales's World Cup dream.

Fly-half Handre Pollard kicked five penalties and a drop-goal for the Springboks, while Dan Biggar put in another excellent shift for Warren Gatland's men by chipping in 14 points, while also setting up Gareth Davies for his fifth try of the tournament.

No one could begrudge Du Preez for his late moment of glory, however, with the 33-year old having to be persuaded to play in the tournament by coach Heyneke Meyer after a series of career-threatening injuries. That faith was certainly vindicated.

New Zealand 63-13 France

If New Zealand have not yet hit top gear, then the remaining sides in the tournament should be scared. Very scared. The defending champions sent out a huge statement in Cardiff by demolishing France in a performance inspired by man of the match Julian Savea, whose two tries helped ensure the All Blacks were almost out of sight at half time, with Brodie Retallick and Nehe Milner-Skudder also contributing with one apiece.

France responded with a try from Louis Picamoles, but any hope of an unlikely comeback was extinguished when the 29-year old was sent to the sin bin.

Savea was just as rampant in the second half, completing a superb hat-trick, while Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read and Tawera Kerr-Barlow (two) also bundled over.

It was something of an annihilation for New Zealand, with France unable to draw inspiration from their famous upsets over the All Blacks in 1999 and 2007.

But there was little sign of a repeat in Cardiff, with Steve Hansen's side recording their ninth consecutive win over the French, equalling Australia's record of 12 consecutive World Cup wins with arguably the best performance of the tournament.

Argentina 43-20 Ireland

A place in the World Cup semi finals continues to elude Ireland, who were outdone by a ruthless blitz of early tries from Argentina in Cardiff on Sunday.

Some fine tries from Matias Moroni and Juan Imhoff saw the Pumas race into a 17-0 lead after just 13 minutes as Ireland, without the injured Paul O'Connell, Johnny Sexton, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne, struggled to find their feet.

Tries from Luke Fitzgerald and Jordi Murphy either side of the break ensured helped cut the deficit to 23-20.

Despite their huge injury list, Ireland showed a lot of character and began to come into the game more against a pacy Argentina side.

But the Pumas weathered the storm superbly, with a famous and deserved win sealed late on with two late tries from Joaquin Tuculet and Imhoff.

Australia 35-34 Scotland

Joy, drama, heartbreak, controversy, this encounter had it all, providing a strong contender for one of the World Cup's all-time great matches.

If Wales ended the weekend feeling gutted, it is unlikely to have come close to the dejection felt by Vern Cotter's men.

A momentous match yielded eight tries, with Mark Bennett's touchdown seven minutes from time seemingly sealing one of the World Cup's greatest upsets.

But Scottish hearts were shattered in controversial circumstances when referee Craig Joubert called a deliberate offside in the last minute, despite replays suggesting the ball may have come off an Australian player.

Bernard Foley stepped up to stroke home the resulting penalty and seal the win, which means that for the first time in history there will be no northern hemisphere team in the World Cup semi-finals.



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