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World Cup dreams will end for two
Posted Oct 13, 2011 by Chris White
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The dream of winning the World Cup will live on for two nations this weekend, but for two others, that dreams will remain just that, with the heart-breaking situation of the semi finals in Auckland.
With two northern hemisphere sides playing each other, and two from the south contesting the other semi, we’re all set for a terrific final, but before we get to the pinnacle of international rugby, we have the little task of the semi finals. France play Wales in the first semi on Saturday, with both sides looking to continue their superb form from the quarter finals against England and Ireland respectively into the match.
The French have named an unchanged XV for the match with Wales, earlier than necessary, in order to send a statement to the three remaining sides that they mean business. That means scrum half Dimitri Yachvili is fit to keep his place in the side despite picking up a thigh injury against England, with Morgan Parra again playing at fly half over Francois Trinh-Duc.
Wales have a fitness concern of their own over Rhys Priestland, with the number 10 struggling with a shoulder problem picked up against Ireland. The coaching staff were hopeful that the injury was not as serious as first feared but Priestland is yet to train this week, making it a straight shootout between Stephen Jones – who didn’t even make the bench against Ireland – and James Hook for a place in the side.
New Zealand also have a mounting injury list ahead of their semi final date with Australia. Mils Muliaina and Colin Slade were both forced out of the remainder of the tournament with the injuries collected against Argentina, adding to the significant absence of Dan Carter. However, it’s not all bad news for the All Blacks with Israel Dagg expected to come back into the side at full back.
Australia have a massive task ahead of them if they’re to knock the hosts out of the tournament, having lost the last three games between the two, and four out of the last six. Kurtley Beale is a major doubt for the match with a hamstring strain, with James O’Connor likely to fill the gap at full back.