All Blacks veteran Aaron Smith has hailed the strength of his side’s defence and the “brutality” of the forward pack as they overwhelmed Argentina 44-6 in their World Cup semi-final in Paris this morning.
Argentina had no match for the men in black, their once-vaunted scrum second-best to New Zealand and attack unable to work their way past a defence that, much like in the final stages of last week’s dramatic win over Ireland, refused to be breached.
Smith, whose try shortly after halftime ensured the All Blacks had second half breathing space and came on the back of a dominant scrum from just outside Argentina’s 22, said his job was made easier by those up front.
“As a halfback, the forwards, being able to use our scrum to get penalties or advantages, to use our maul to group them and tire them, and then our forwards’ brutality at the breakdown and then our defence to back that up, pretty stoked with the performance we had tonight.”
The team’s tacklers had trust in each other that they would hold firm, and eventually create opportunities for those out wide to finish the job.
The main beneficiary was Will Jordan, who scored three to take his tally to 31 in 30 Tests,
He also praised the defence.
“I think we’ve got a really clear understanding of what we want to do, over the last couple of years we’ve had to make some changes to our game, Scott McLeod’s been awesome around our D around some different things there so to keep Argentina try-less tonight was a credit to that.”
Smith said that hard work in defence and how it contributed to a fifth World Cup final appearance was something that filled him with pride.
“The type of tries we got were through hard carries, hard clean-outs and attacking space and that was probably the most satisfying thing, that was the plan, to take them on up front. They’re a huge side and very physical.
“Obviously I’m not a part of the physical stuff, but getting us into positions to attack and really take them on, the forwards were outstanding tonight. You can’t ask much more than that as a 9 and a 10.”
New Zealand will meet the winner of tomorrow’s clash between England and South Africa next Sunday morning.
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