Rugby World Cup semifinals preview, latest team lists, predictions

Rugby

Only four are left as the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan nears closer to its pulsating finale. Defending champions New Zealand entered the tournament as favourites and have showed why in every game that they have played so far. England will be their foe on Saturday, as they hope to make their first World Cup final since 2007.

Wales will take on a strong South Africa side that look to be growing in confidence as the tournament goes on. But the Welsh have proved that they are meant to be in the semifinals, showing quality and grit to see off Australia and France in earlier rounds.

This weekend provides a strong slate of world-class rugby.

Read ahead for team lists and previews.

Saturday, 26 Oct. 2019

England vs. New Zealand, International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama (5:00 pm local, 6:00pm AEST, 9:00 am BST, 4am ET)

England: TBA

New Zealand: TBA

Head-to-head record: England seven wins, New Zealand 33 wins, one draw

Verdict: The last time that these two sides met in the Rugby World Cup semifinal, Jonah Lomu claimed his place as the sport’s biggest star of his era, running through England bodies on the way to scoring four tries in a brutal 45-29 All Blacks victory.

New Zealand don’t have a Lomu this time around, but their team is every bit as good. The All Blacks are two-time defending champions, and have already scored 203 points at this year’s tournament — even though their final pool stage match was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. England have a lot of quality of their own however, and will be New Zealand’s toughest test in Japan so far.

Meanwhile, England’s composed dismantling of Australia, who beat the All Blacks before the in final tournament warm-up match — it can be done — will stand Eddie Jones’ side in good stead. As will the encouragement they can take from a narrow and controversial defeat by the All Blacks at Twickenham last November in their previous meeting. But, New Zealand are tournament favourites for a reason, and they will likely prevail in this one.

Tip: New Zealand by 6.

Sunday, 27. Oct. 2019

Wales vs. South Africa, International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama (5:00 pm local, 6:00pm AEST, 9:00 am BST, 5am ET)

Wales: TBA

South Africa: TBA

Head-to-head record: Wales six wins, South Africa 28 wins, one draw

Verdict: Wales may be counting their lucky stars that they have made it this far in the tournament. Warren Gatland’s side left it late when they edged out France in the quarterfinal after they looked to be heading home for much of the game.

Wales are yet to hit their highest gear in Japan, something they must do against South Africa on Sunday if they hope to reach their first ever World Cup final. But they have shown great spirit and grit so far, and will look to do the same this time out.

South Africa had to do the unwanted job of knocking out everybody’s second-favourite team Japan in the quarterfinals, but the way they did so showed their quality. The Springboks conceded just three points in a well-organised rout of the hosts. They’ll have little chance of the doing the same on Sunday in what will likely be a nail bitingly close game.

Tip: South Africa by 3.

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