Rugby World Cup semi finals

Big games for four teams in the Rugby World Cup in Japan this weekend.

Tonight (Saturday) at 9 pm (NZ time) England will play New Zealand. It will be broadcast live on TV1.

Obviously this could go either way. At their best the All Blacks will be very hard to beat, but if England get their tactics and execution right, minimise mistakes and keep the ABs under pressure they are a real chance. Both countries had very good wins in their quarter final matches, so this should be  very good game.

I’d like the ll Blacks to win, but if England are good enough on the day to beat them then good on them.

Tomorrow night at 10 pm (NZ time) South Africa play Wales.

It’s hard too predict how this game will go. South Africa lost their first pool game (against the All Blacks), and haven’t really been tested since then. Japan put up a real fight in the first half last week but couldn’t get over the line to score, and succumbed to the power of the Springboks in the second half.

Wales did well to beat Australia in their pool, but they didn’t play very well against France last week. A red card reduced France to 14, and Welsh tenacity got them the win, just.

Another game that could go either way. As it should be.

I’m looking forward to both games with anticipation.

Black Ferns win semi-final

Women’s rugby gets nothing like the coverage of the male version, and the Black Ferns get a fraction of the attention of the All Blacks, but they have been having a very good world cup in Ireland.

They have just beaten the USA in a semi-final 45 to 12.

RNZ:  Black Ferns into Rugby World Cup final

The Black Ferns have made it to the final of the Rugby World Cup, with a 45-12 victory over the US in their semi-final in Belfast this morning.

The Americans were competitive in the first half, but the New Zealanders took control in the second half, playing the majority of the game in the opposition half, and dominated possession.

The Black Ferns scored seven tries in total, with four of them to winger Portia Woodman.

That was a very good try on the way to an excellent win.

The Black Ferns will play either France or defending champions England in the final.

England have had some big wins too, beating the USA in a pool match 47-26. And France beat Australia 48-0!

Website: Women’s Rugby World Cup

T20: New Zealand v England

The first of the World T20 semi finals is New Zealand versus England.

England won the toss and put the Black Caps in to bat.

The Black Caps started very well, getting to 89-1 at the half way mark,  but struggled to get runs in the second half of their innings  and lost wickets regularly scoring 64 for 7 wickets, so will be a bit disappointed with their total of 153 for 8.

England will fancy their chances chasing what looks like a modest total, but if the Black Caps found scoring difficult then especially if they get some wickets and apply pressure then England might find the going tough.

Commentators are saying that New Zealand are perhaps 20 runs short of a par total.

In T20 one batting performance can make the difference. Can someone step up for England? Or will the New Zealand bowlers succeed again in protecting a total that looks a bit short of what they would have wanted.

Not looking good for New Zealand. Jason Roy has got England’s innings off to a flyer scoring a quick 50 within 6 overs with his team 67-0. The tournament looks as good as over for the Black Caps.

Roy out for 78, bowled Sodhi, but he has probably won the game for England.

A couple of wickets off a couple of balls but then England coast to a comfortable victory. They bowled well in the final overs of the New Zealand innings, batted extremely well at the start of their own innings and made it look easy.

A deserved win for England and the tournament is over for New Zealand, some credit to them for their pool matches but not good enough when they got to the sudden death semis.

Southern hemisphere semis

A slightly surprising win to Argentina and a near shock loss to Australia has resulted in an all southern hemisphere semi final in the Rugby World Cup.

The semis will be:

  • South Africa versus New Zealand – 4 am Sunday 25 October (NZ time)
  • Argentina versus Australia – 5 am Monday 26 October (NZ time)

Results from the quarter finals:

  • South Africa beat Wales 23-19

The Springboks ground out a win against a weary looking Wales without wowing. They are still in the hunt but surely have to lift and show more enterprise to match it with the All Blacks in their semi final.

Wales were gallant and kept close but looked like they ran out of gas after some punishing pool games and an awful injury toll.

  • New Zealand beat France 62-13

The All Blacks bltized Les Bleus as individuals and the new Zealand team came into form at the business end of the tournament. The question will be whether the ABs can repeat this sort of performance again next week. And if they win that whether they can lift to that level again. They are well prepared and may, but sport does funny things sometimes. They must now be favourites.

France battled well in the first half but couldn’t match the ABs and couldn’t keep up in the second half. They have serious questions to ask about their coaching and club system.

  • Argentina beat Ireland 43-20

I didn’t see this game but the Pumas pounced after showing promise in pool play and ended up with a decisive win.

Ireland had lost some key players to injury after a punishing clash with France last week, which turned out to be both teams’ peak.

  • Australia beat Scotland 35-34

Scotland nearly had a shock win over the Wallabies with a late intercept try putting them in front but a controversial penalty two minutes from full time let Australia rescue what would otherwise have been an embarrassment.

Scotland played very well an deserve much credit. That penalty was a huge blow but they bumbled the lineout that led to the penalty. And then after the Wallabies took the lead Scotland kicked off deep, Australia took it and played out the remaining seconds. Why on earth didn’t Scotland kick short so they could contest possession instead of giving possession to the Aussies on a plate?

Australia managed to do what counts, they won, and they scored five tries, but they didn’t have a very good game in many respects. They looked lacklustre. Their scrum fell to pieces. Scotland may have beaten them on turnovers. And Foley missed his first three kicks (but nailed the one that really counted at the end).

The Wallabies will have a big battle against Argentina next week and will have to up their standards.

Already this World Cup has been a major disappointment for the Northern Hemisphere, with four teams from the south filling all semi final slots.

Finally Black Caps

Finally, after six failed attempts, the Black Caps team that dared to dream big, dug deep and won their first world cup semi-final.

Both New Zealand and South Africa made mistakes along the way, interrupted by some Auckland rain, but both teams rose to the occasion. Fortunes ebbed and flowed through both innings.

In the end the Black Caps stood tall, Grant Elliot standing the tallest with a great innings and a magnificent wallop off the second last ball to clinch a win, while the South Africans slumped in despondency – they can be proud of their effort but there’s no avoiding the bitterness of defeat on an occasion like this.

Peter Meecham/Fairfax NZ

This is New Zealand’s greatest win backed by huge crowd support – described as electric – and a country familiar with late fades but now feasting on a fantasy come true.

Well, nearly. This was a semi-final. Can the Black Caps lift themselves to greater heights? The final is in Melbourne on Sunday.

McCullum summed up the night afterwards: “We’ve given ourselves a shot at World cup glory,” he said.

“It’s the greatest time of our lives as players. We are enjoying the experience. It’s been an incredible ride all the way through the crowds we’ve had turn up all the way through New Zealand for this team and the brand of cricket we have played has been phenomenal.

“We hope they are all dreaming as much as we are. we have a huge occasion in a few days time and jeez it would be nice to win it.”

– Stuff

The last six overs from Cricinfo:

Target is under 50. Six overs in hand

37.1 Morkel to Elliott, 1 run, short of a length, outside off, steers it down to third man for one

Morkel has two left, including this. A slip in place

37.2 Morkel to Anderson, no run, this is a really mean delivery, rising towards his nose from just short of a length. Hits his glove as he fends. Could have gone anywhere
37.3 Morkel to Anderson, no run, cut into the pitch, off the leg-stump line, bounces straight to point. Two dots. Pressure building?
37.4 Morkel to Anderson, no run, lovely delivery. Morkel building pressure. This one is a heavy ball. Just short of a length. Middle and leg. Holds its line, cuts him into two, but sails over the stumps
37.5 Morkel to Anderson, no run, appeal for a catch down the leg side as Anderson is beaten on the hook. SA appeal. NZ hope for a wide. Crowd boos as the wide is not called. This is a wide down leg really
37.6 Morkel to Anderson, OUT, Morkel has brought them back. Faf du Plesiss was never dropping this. South Africa roar. New Zealand slipping at the last hurdle? This has been a superb over by Morkel. Short of a length, around off, the ball gets big on him as he pulls. The top edge is massive. Kisses the moon before it comes back down. Du Plessis takes a lovely safe catch at square leg. Lets out a roar. But hold on. They are checking if this has kissed the spider cam wire on the way down. If it touches, we have a dead ball folks. The replays are inconclusive. In the dark sky with black cables it is hard to tell, and he is asked to walk on. What a farce it is that we have the spidercam. Encroaching upon the playing area. Has a farce been avoided narrowly? Conversation with the third umpire not relayed this time. How transparent

CJ Anderson c du Plessis b Morkel 58 (80m 57b 6×4 2×6) SR: 101.75

End of over 38 (1 run) New Zealand 252/5 (46 runs required from 30 balls, RR: 6.63, RRR: 9.20)

Eden Park has gone quiet. Elliott and Ronchi have the sixth-wicket partnership world record. Surely they will rate this higher if they can get 45 or 46 here.

38.1 de Villiers to Elliott, 1 run, full, really full, dug out into the pitch, bounces over AB’s head for one
38.2 de Villiers to Ronchi, no run, on a length, pretty straight. Pushed back to hi. De Villiers has bowled gun overs here
38.3 de Villiers to Ronchi, 1 run, Ronchi is a straight hitter, and they have got long-on pretty straight for him. Driven straight to him for one
38.4 de Villiers to Elliott, SIX, bouncer outside off, Elliott is waiting for it, and hooks this over midwicket for a six. Massive relief for New Zealand for the time being
38.5 de Villiers to Elliott, 1 run, back of a length, outside off, slogged away to deep midwicket for one
38.6 de Villiers to Ronchi, 1 run, full and straight, driven straight again, and Behardien is pretty straight at long-on to keep them down to one

End of over 39 (10 runs) New Zealand 262/5 (36 runs required from 24 balls, RR: 6.71, RRR: 9.00)

Nine an over now. It has come down to this. What a beauty this game is turning out to be. Tahir to bowl out now

39.1 Imran Tahir to Ronchi, 1 run, worng’un, he hasn’t picked it, but he recovers well as it turns back in. Dabs it out for a single
39.2 Imran Tahir to Elliott, no run, moves across to flick this, but finds du Plessis at short midwicket
39.3 Imran Tahir to Elliott, no run, Elliott moves across the line, he bowls full and fast and yorks him up. Valuable dot
39.4 Imran Tahir to Elliott, 1 run, flatter delivery, pulled away to the left of Amla at deep midwicket. They don’t take his arm on
39.5 Imran Tahir to Ronchi, FOUR, lovely batting. Ronchi is a touch player. Flat length ball, into the pads, he has just chipped it. Just a caress. No back-lift, no follow-through. Just lifts it over midwicket for four
39.6 Imran Tahir to Ronchi, 1 run, low full toss, driven hard and down the ground, Rossouw rushes to his right at long-off, and fields. Keeps them down to one. Sensational effort

End of over 40 (7 runs) New Zealand 269/5 (29 runs required from 18 balls, RR: 6.72, RRR: 9.66)

It is getting tighter every ball. This is a cracker. Twenty-nine off 18; 28 will do it for New Zealand. Steyn is here

40.1 Steyn to Ronchi, OUT, he has picked out deep midwicket. This is just a length ball, and he has just played an instinctive aerial flick across the line. A nothing shot really, and he has found deep midwicket to perfection. A forgettable night for Ronchi. Dropped de Kock, wasn’t great with his collections. Steyn meanwhile is pumped up. South Africa might have their noses ahead here

L Ronchi c Rossouw b Steyn 8 (13m 7b 1×4 0x6) SR: 114.28


Steyn to Elliott, 2 runs, short of a length, makes room by arching back and cuts this to the right of third man for a couple


Steyn to Elliott, 2 runs, slower ball, short of a length, soft hands into the leg side, he rushes back for a risky second, and de Kock has missed him. De Kock is up to the stumps, Rossouw’s throw is accurate, but a little too full. De Kock’s gloves close early, he doesn’t collect the ball, removes the bails with Elliott miles outside the crease

40.4 Steyn to Elliott, 1 run, slower ball, clipped away off the pads for a single to fine leg

What a time for Dan Vettori to come in. Every dot is pressure here. Can Vettori do it one more time for New Zealand?

40.5 Steyn to Vettori, 1 run, walks down the wicket, makes room, exposes the stumps, Steyn fires in a yorker, the bat comes down just in time. The NZ fans skipped a beat here. They take the single to point
40.6 Steyn to Elliott, no run, pressure on New Zealand here. Low full toss, nearly a yorker, dug out to short straight midwicket where AB is in to save the single. Vettori is backing up too far. De Viliiers misses with the throw. They don’t get the overthrow because mid-off is in the circle

End of over 41 (6 runs) New Zealand 275/6 (23 runs required from 12 balls, RR: 6.70, RRR: 11.50)

Morkel has kept South Africa alive here. Can he bowl six good balls to give Steyn a big total to defend

41.1 Morkel to Vettori, 1 run, low full toss from round the wicket, Vettori makes room and drives, Amla makes a diving save at short cover. Saves three runs. What a contest. Everybody is giving it his all

Gyanesh Prakash: “I am sitting in my office and everyone seems to be reporting to Sidharth Monga now. Including my boss :)”

41.2 Morkel to Elliott, 2 runs, what luck for New Zealand. Elliott plays the pressure shot. He goes back into the crease, premeditating a short ball. Morkel bowls length. He swings. The ball gets big. It lobs up into the night sky. Midwicket goes back. Two fielders from the deep on the leg side rush in. But it falls smack in between
41.3 Morkel to Elliott, 1 run, bouncer, Elliott thinks this is his opportunity, but it is a slower bouncer, he gets a bottom edge for one
41.4 Morkel to Vettori, 1 run, Steyn saves three there. Vettori moves inside the line to pull this to long leg. Steyn – dodgy hamstring – rushes to the right from fine leg and dives full length to save three
41.5 Morkel to Elliott, FOUR, Elliott pulls one back for New Zealand. He stays deep in the crease, moves across too to set himself up. Morkel thinks he wants to leg side, and he bowls full and wide. Elliott instead goes over extra cover. Nails it. Four crucial runs
41.6 Morkel to Elliott, 2 runs, Collision. Collision. Elliott pulls from outside off, gets a massive top edge between deep backward and fine leg. Behardien gets under it. Duminy rushes in from fine leg. No calling. They have dropped it. In the meanwhile Elliott and Vettori have missed out on the opportunity to take the third because they are standing in the middle of the pitch, waiting to see what happens

End of over 42 (11 runs) New Zealand 286/6 (12 runs required from 6 balls, RR: 6.80, RRR: 12.00)

Steyn to bowl the final over

42.1 Steyn to Vettori, 1 bye, Vettori backs away and swings, is beaten by a slower ball, but Elliott charges through to claim the strike

Eleven to win. Ten to tie. Anything will do. Dot. Wicket. Pressure from South Africa. This is a great match. Mid-off up, fine leg up

42.2 Steyn to Elliott, 1 run, full toss, drilled hard, in the air, on the bounce to cover. They get just the single

Steyn stretches as he walks back to his mark. Dodgy hamstring. “Daniel Vettori,” chants the crowd. The batsmen come up for a conversation. Play is held up as the physio comes in for Steyn. There is no way he will not bowl this over. It is the calf this time. A loud hush around the ground. The loudest hush you can imagine. Ten off four to win. Nine to tie. Steyn gets up after what looks like a couple of minutes

42.3 Steyn to Vettori, FOUR, Steyn bowls the yorker. The grand old man of NZ cricket Vettori makes room, opens the face with the horizontal bat. Squeezes this out perfectly to the left of third man for four. What a moment
42.4 Steyn to Vettori, 1 bye, bouncer, Vettori misses the pull, Elliott rushes through for the bye, de Kock Misses at the striker’s end, Steyn misses at the non-striker’s as Vettori dives

Down to five off two. A boundary takes them home. Does Elliott think he has two balls to hit one boundary and turn down the single if it arises?

42.5 Steyn to Elliott, SIX, no he doesn’t. He hits this over long-on for six. Lets out an almighty roar. All 45000 roar with him. Steyn has bowled length. Why length at this time? Surely you would expect a yorker or a bouncer. Elliott – South African by birth – goes deep into the crease, and lofts this over wide long-in for surely the most important hit he has ever hit in his life. Why would you bowl length, Dale?

11.25pm Oh what a night. We will never forget it. Boult’s swing at the top of the innings, du Plessis’ absorption of all New Zealand could throw at him, Williamson dropping de Villiers, de Villiers and Miller exploding in the end, the rain, the readjusted target, McCullum making mockery of some of the best and most fearsome fast bowlers of the world, Morkel bringing South Africa back bowling with heart and menace, New Zealand losing wickets to nerves, Anderson and Elliott bringing them back, de Viliiers missing a run-out, spidercam nearly costing South Africa a wicket, de Kock missing a run-out, Steyn diving with a dodgy leg to save three runs in the penultimate over, Vettori squeezing out a yorker for four in the final, Elliott ending it with a six, the tears of Morkel, the roar of Elliott, what would this World Cup be without this match?

Cold-blooded analyses will question the selection of Philander; it will question New Zealand’s running, their fielding; we will look back ruefully at missed run-out. Equally we must cherish the execution of skills under such immense pressure. In the end the better team won, they shook hands, they hugged each other, nobody abused the other, and we can be thankful for that. Let’s just keep in mind that Elliott was the first man to go up to the vanquished Steyn and lift him off the pitch. It has been an absolute pleasure to bring this game to you. This is Sidharth Monga saying goodbye

11.20pm What rousing speeches from both captains. Yes, AB, your country can still be proud of you. Yes, Brendon, your country – and fans of your cricket all over the world – are dreaming as much as you are

Pawan: “This is what cricket is all about. No sledging, mind games or silly altercations. Just skill, passion and humility in defeat. Hold your heads high de Villiers and Mccullum. Your boys have given us a true spectacle of the game.”

Russell: “Very emotional for South Africa, they gave their best and lost in the last moment. In a game like this, both teams are winners – painful words from AB to end it, and congratulations to NZ.”

11.10pm “Pretty amazing,” says Brendon McCullum. “South Africa gave as good as they got all day. Great advertisement for cricket. Everybody involved will remember this for the rest of their lives. Keep raining is what I thought when AB was going. Two very destructive batsmen. The way we kept giving it in the field, the way we bowled, we did good. Even with the bat. We wanted to hang in till the end. What a great innings from Grant. Came out of wilderness not long ago. We had to generate some sort of run-rate early, that is what we tried to go. Credit to South Africa the way they played tonight and throughout the tournament. The greatest time of our lives. We have enjoyed the experience. The crowds that have turned, the brand of cricket we have tried to play. Hope the crowds are all dreaming the way we are. gee it would be nice to win it. We don’t mind whom we face in the final. They are both quality sides, but we know if we play the way we want to we are a good chance. Really proud to represent New Zealand.”

“Amazing game of cricket,” says AB de Villiers. “Probably the most electric crowd I have ever heard in my life. I guess the best team has come out on top. We gave it our best. No regrets. We left it all out there. It is hurting. It is going to take a while to recover. Worst of all is we don’t play for ourselves. The bigger picture is for the people back home. We play for them. I hope they can still be proud of us. There have been great performances. I felt we had a wonderful thing going. Had a great feeling. Don’t want to single out any performance. To the teams in the final, all the best.”

11pm Finally a beauty at the World Cup. Such raw emption after such a great show of skill, audacity, humanly mistakes. Joy, sadness. Smiles, tears. Roars of ecstasy, roars of anguish. We have seen it all tonight. After six agonising semi-finals, New Zealand have finally made it to a World Cup final. Martin Crowe will rest easy now. Dion Nash will rest easy. His is the lesser stories exit after his side had looked exceptional in 1999. I remember talking to him about it in 2009. He sat there for hours inside the dressing room, in an absolutely filthy mood. They can all rejoice today

And for South Africa, the wait continues. It is a cruel sport

“It’s great,” says Grant Elliott, the Man of the Match. “I don’t think this win is for myself or the team, but everyone here. The supporters have been amazing. We wanted to take it as deep as we could [The crowd is not letting him talk]. I think we timed the pace of the innings to perfection. Not as calm as I looked. When you have 45000 fans screaming at you every ball… It has been an absolute pleasure playing in front of this crowd. We have had a good run. It is the first final we have been in as New Zealand. We are a very level team, we will approach it as any other game. Nothing going in my mind when I hit the six. I don’t even know where the ball went.”


What a finish. Elliott has shown nerves of steel. South Africans are on the ground. Morkel, who gave it his all with the ball. Du Plessis, who weathered the storm with the bat, and ran every ball down in the field. They are weeping. Even Steyn. What emotion. Jubilation for New Zealand. Fireworks in the air. Tears at the ground. Sport at its best. Two immensely likeable teams. They have left it all on the field of play. Elliott you beauty. Came into the side at the last moment. Has held his nerve to win it for them. The ghost of 1992 lays exorcised in front of 45000 people. Fireworks in the rest of Auckland too

ICC Cricket World Cup – 1st semi final
New Zealand won by 4 wickets (with 1 ball remaining) (D/L method)
24 March 2015 – day/night match (50-over match)
South Africa innings (43 overs maximum) R M B 4s 6s SR
View dismissal HM Amla b Boult 10 15 14 2 0 71.42
View dismissal Q de Kock c Southee b Boult 14 36 17 2 0 82.35
View dismissal F du Plessis c †Ronchi b Anderson 82 155 107 7 1 76.63
View dismissal RR Rossouw c Guptill b Anderson 39 77 53 2 1 73.58
AB de Villiers* not out 65 84 45 8 1 144.44
View dismissal DA Miller c †Ronchi b Anderson 49 23 18 6 3 272.22
JP Duminy not out 8 4 4 1 0 200.00
Extras (b 1, w 13) 14
Total (5 wickets; 43 overs; 196 mins) 281 (6.53 runs per over)
Bowling O M R W Econ 0s 4s 6s
TG Southee 9 1 55 0 6.11 31 10 0 (1w)
View wickets TA Boult 9 0 53 2 5.88 29 7 0
MJ Henry 8 2 40 0 5.00 27 3 1 (1w)
DL Vettori 9 0 46 0 5.11 21 2 0 (2w)
KS Williamson 1 0 5 0 5.00 1 0 0
GD Elliott 1 0 9 0 9.00 2 0 1
View wickets CJ Anderson 6 0 72 3 12.00 12 6 4 (5w)
New Zealand innings (target: 298 runs from 43 overs) R M B 4s 6s SR
View dismissal MJ Guptill run out (Amla/†de Kock) 34 80 38 3 1 89.47
View dismissal BB McCullum* c Steyn b Morkel 59 32 26 8 4 226.92
View dismissal KS Williamson b Morkel 6 12 11 1 0 54.54
View dismissal LRPL Taylor c †de Kock b Duminy 30 57 39 4 0 76.92
GD Elliott not out 84 132 73 7 3 115.06
View dismissal CJ Anderson c du Plessis b Morkel 58 80 57 6 2 101.75
View dismissal L Ronchi c Rossouw b Steyn 8 13 7 1 0 114.28
DL Vettori not out 7 19 6 1 0 116.66
Extras (b 6, lb 2, w 5) 13
Total (6 wickets; 42.5 overs; 212 mins) 299 (6.98 runs per over)
Bowling O M R W Econ 0s 4s 6s
View wicket DW Steyn 8.5 0 76 1 8.60 25 7 4 (1w)
VD Philander 8 0 52 0 6.50 28 7 2
View wickets M Morkel 9 0 59 3 6.55 30 9 1 (1w)
Imran Tahir 9 1 40 0 4.44 28 4 0 (1w)
View wicket JP Duminy 5 0 43 1 8.60 9 3 2 (2w)
AB de Villiers 3 0 21 0 7.00 6 1 1


Toss – South Africa, who chose to bat
Series – New Zealand advanced
Player of the match – GD Elliott (New Zealand)
Umpires – IJ Gould (England) and RJ Tucker (Australia)
TV umpire – NJ Llong (England)
Match referee – DC Boon (Australia)
Reserve umpire – BNJ Oxenford (Australia)

All Blacks versus Australia

A great win for the All Blacks last night in the Rugby World Cup semi final.

Very well planned.

Very well executed.

Very well done All Blacks – players, coaches and support staff.

And good on the Wallabies, they did well to get as far as the semi and kept trying gallantly but this was one game and one RWC they just weren’t good enough.