MARK KEOHANE is troubled by the 38-point differential of the All Blacks’ 44-6 win over Argentina in their World Cup semi-final, given the significance of the match.
Writing for TimesLIVE, Keohane believes that had Richie Mo’unga not missed several kicks and denied hat-trick hero Will Jordan a record-breaking ninth try of the tournament, the scoreline i nParis on Friday night could have been 61-6 – a discrepancy that doesn’t align with the intensity of a knockout clash.
Keohane hailed the gripping quarter-final showdown between France and the Springboks, separated by a single point, and the equally dramatic contest between the All Blacks and Ireland, which the All Blacks narrowly won.
He claims that these matches possessed the quality and intensity of a World Cup final, while this weekend’s semi-finals was never expected to match up, as the tournament’s structure put the world’s top four teams on one side of the draw.
Keohane notes that Argentina couldn’t live up to the challenge and lacked their trademark set-piece strength. In contrast, the All Blacks displayed remarkable improvement from their initial loss to France.
However, he suggests that their out-of-hand kicking game remains a weakness, and they could be vulnerable to a formidable pack like the Springboks in the final.
“The Pumas challenge lasted four minutes and 50 seconds. They had all the possession in the opening five minutes and their reward was one penalty and three points. Then it all turned black for the Argentineans,” Keohane writes.
“It was an imposing New Zealand effort, but the one-sided nature must be weighed against an opponent simply not good enough to have been in a World Cup semi-final.
“We are talking about a World Cup semi-final, and this kind of points differential is just wrong.”