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South Africa to face England in #JWC2014 Final

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irb.com     15 Jun 2014     Getty Images

The two semi-finals were contrasting affairs with an English whirlwind proving too much for Ireland in their first appearance in the last four to seal a 42-15 win, before South Africa battled back with a try two minutes from time to break New Zealand hearts with a 32-25 victory.

ENGLAND 42-15 IRELAND

A blistering first-half display saw England blow first-time semi-finalists Ireland out of the water and keep their hopes of defending the title alive, the Irish simply unable to live with the English power, running lines and line speed on defence.

Harry Sloan scored the first of England's four tries before the break, but it was Howard Packman's try that was the pick of the bunch, fly half Billy Burns spotting the Ireland defence had all been sucked in and kicking across for the wing to take in his stride and race over the line.

Ireland lost captain Jack O'Donoghue just before the break to a head knock, but without him they battled bravely and while the win was by then beyond them, they battled bravely to the finish and were rewarded with tries from Garry Ringrose and Alex Wootton. England were not to be denied a fifth final appearance with flanker Gus Jones adding their final try.

England coach Nick Walshe: “We were happy with that but really only played for 50 minutes. The game was over as a contest by half-time, and whilst we did talk about that in the shed, the boys let the pedal off and all credit to the Irish they came back at us in the second half. We are trying to build the complete side and we feel we have a team who can take on either New Zealand or South Africa in the final. We still have things to work on – definitely one being playing an 80-minute game."

Ireland coach Mike Ruddock: "We spoke before the game about having to put on a world-class defensive performance to compete with England – and whilst I am very proud of the boys, we simply could not match them. That is a very good, complete England team. Their experience is immense. I was very proud with how we dug in and kept battling, that was the plus point."

SOUTH AFRICA 32-25 NEW ZEALAND

Just when sudden death extra-time seemed to be looming at QBE Stadium with the scores locked at 25-25, South Africa got up a head of steam with a driving maul and hooker Corniel Els dotted down in the corner to break New Zealand hearts.

New Zealand had been overpowered by South Africa in the pool stages, but this was a much-improved performance that got off to the perfect start when hooker Hame Faiva raced down the touchline to open the scoring in the fourth minute.

South Africa captain Handre Pollard - who during the match became the leading point scorer at both JWC 2014 and in the competition's history - pulled his side ahead after judging a pass well to intercept and race clear under the posts.

The hosts, with Damian McKenzie a livewire at full back, hit back again through Tevita Li but South Africa would have been relieved to go in trailing just 15-10. The seesaw nature continued after the break with Sergeal Petersen and Vincent Tavae-Aso trading tries before South Africa fought back from 25-20 down with tries from Andre Esterhuizen and Els.

ARGENTINA 38-12 FIJI

Fiji rallied after the break with two tries but by then the damage had been done with Argentina picking up their first win of the tournament to guarantee their place at the 2015 edition in Italy and avoid a last day battle to avoid relegation to the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy.

The Fijian scrum has struggled in each match and Argentina were awarded a penalty try after driving the pack backwards at a rate of knots. Argentina continued to pile on the pressure but only added a try through Santiago Alvarez to go in leading 21-0 at half-time.

Facunda Gigena and German Schulz scored tries - the latter collecting his own chip ahead as Argentina went the length of the field - for Argentina before Fiji came alive, offloading in every direction and being rewarded with tries from hooker Wilisoni Lagi and scrum half Tubuka Vueti.

Argentina, whose captain Patricio Fernandez became not only the leading point scorer at JWC 2014 but also in the tournament's history in the match, had the final say though at ECOLight Stadium with replacement Lautaro Bazan Velez dotting down.

Argentina captain Patricio Fernandez: "We are very happy. We played a good match so I am very proud of the team today."

ITALY 18-21 SCOTLAND

Scotland jumped with joy after the final whistle blew to complete their comeback against Italy, who missed a last-minute penalty that would have tied the scores and taken the match into sudden-death extra-time in Pukekohe.

Italy had led 11-0 at half-time after Daniele di Guilo's try and Filippo Buscema's two penalties, but the captain also missed three kicks at goal that would have given the Azzurrini a more comfortable lead and his failure with the boot ultimately proved costly.

Scotland coach Sean Lineen's half-time talk clearly had the desired effect with James Ritchie, Neil Irvine-Hess and Darcy Rae all touching down before the hour mark. Italy hit back through Renato Giammarioli to cut the deficit to three and finished the stronger, but the Scottish defence held firm through more than 20 phases and were relieved when Buscema missed.

Scotland captain Tommy Spinks: "The (half-time) message was buck up your ideas pretty much. We let ourselves down in the first half and it was the case of finding it in there to get the job done. A few harsh words and tough realities and we came out firing and are massively pleased with the performance.”

AUSTRALIA - SAMOA

Andrew Kellaway wrote his name into the JWC history books with a four-try salvo against Samoa, tying the record for the most tries in a single match and also taking his tally for the tournament to a record-equalling eight touchdowns.

Three of the wing's tries came in the first 24 minutes at QBE Stadium as Australia came out firing, eager to banish the disappointment of missing out on the semi-finals on point differential to New Zealand. He had to wait until the 57th minute for number four as Australia broke through the Samoan defence at will and made their opponents pay for numerous turnovers.

Australia scored eight tries in all with Brad Lacey grabbing a brace after impressing on the opposite wing and had passed the 50-point mark before Samoa crashed over for two tries through replacement prop Iafeta Luamanu and Sootala Fa'aso'o to give their vocal supporters something to cheer about.

Australia coach Adrian Thompson: “This was our most impressive as far as putting our foot on the throat and makes not being in the top four even more frustrating. We watched the videos and thought New Zealand and South Africa went a bit lateral against Samoa so we wanted to be more direct."

WALES v FRANCE

France gained revenge for the defeat which denied them a place in the semi-finals by fighting back to beat Wales 19-18 at ECOLight Stadium, although they had a nervous few seconds as Welsh fly half Angus O'Brien attempted a kick just inside the French half that would have won the match.

His kick drifted wide and Les Bleuets were able to breathe again and celebrate a result which means they will face Australia for fifth place at Eden Park on Friday. Jean Baptiste Singer's try with 10 minutes to go had been converted by Baptiste Serin to put them in front for the final time.

Flanker Jean Thomas had earlier given France the perfect start with a second-minute try, but scores from Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan edged the Welsh out in front. Once more France came back through Tommy Raynaud's try to cut the deficit to 15-12 at half-time. That grew to six points with another O'Brien penalty before Singer's try.

France captain Francois Cros: “It was a very difficult match. Now we have won one each - we have revenge, we are very happy to have won against them. They are a very good team and it's great for us to play the next match on Eden Park.”