Graham Reid tackles the tips ahead of the Rugby World Cup semi-finals
THE RUGBY World Cup field has been whittled down to four and I’m convinced this quartet is the best the competition has to offer.
Blowing away the Northern Hemisphere challenge is one thing, but now the Rugby Championship sides will all need to step up another gear.
New Zealand looked a class apart in their spectacular defeat of France.
However, they haven’t really faced a challenger of note since their opening salvo against Argentina.
Their semi-final opponents, South Africa, battled through their group and then ground past Wales in the quarter-final.
This may be their old enemy, but the Springboks will have to find another level if they are to make it through.
Recent matches between the two have actually been quite tight. In July, the All Blacks won by seven, while last year South Africa were victorious by two.
However, New Zealand have won 10 of the last 12 encounters, and I can’t see them regaining the ‘choker’ tag they banished with World Cup victory four years ago.
Considering South Africa’s indifferent form, I could even see the Kiwis taking this by at least 15 points. With New Zealand’s supremacy at 7-10, I’d recommend a buy, especially if the rain holds off.
There are some mouth-watering head-to-heads, none more so than on the wing between Bryan Habana and Julian Savea.
On the South African side, Habana is the joint-highest World Cup tryscorer alongside the great Jonah Lomu.
He has bagged five tries this tournament, but was starved of the ball against Wales.
On the other side is man-mountain Savea. A reincarnation of Lomu for the modern age, he has equalled the record for the most tries in one tournament (eight), and you wouldn’t bet against him adding to his tally to take the record outright.
He was everywhere when claiming his hat-trick against France.
Always on the shoulder looking to score, he doesn’t wait for the ball to come to him and I’d back him to dot down first tomorrow.
Take the 15/8 with Betway for him to be first tryscorer.
Savea first tryscorer 15/8 (Betway)
Buy New Zealand supremacy 10 (Sporting Index)