Australia stand in the way of New Zealand and a World Cup final spot

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It took 68 minutes but the 1/66 favourites New Zealand finally put Argentina to bed in front of an Eden Park crowd stunned by the passion of the Pumas.

A Kieran Read try while Nicolas Vergallo was off the pitch handed the All Blacks the comfort zone needed following a 60 minutes in which Argentina reminded us just how good they can be.

However it was the class of the All Blacks that eventually shone through, although backers of Graham Henry’s team at 1/66 would not have been too impressed by the performance.

Piri Weepu was the star of the show for New Zealand thanks to his boot but when it came to the free-flowing rugby New Zealand are so strong at, Weepu was lost without Dan Carter inside him.

Carter’s replacement Colin Slade departed the pitch following an ankle injury that ended 33 tough minutes for the number 10, and while Aaron Cruden filled in solidly for Slade, the All Blacks back line never truly fired.

The All Blacks remain favourites for the tournament at 8/13 with Australia second favourites at 4/1.

Having just edged past South Africa in Sunday’s earlier semi-final, Australia will be confident of traveling to Auckland to take on an All Black’s side that they beat in their most recent encounter.

While that match was in Brisbane, the manner of New Zealand’s performance against Argentina will give confidence to the Australia camp and this Rugby World Cup remains wide open.

Wales and France sealed their semi-final spots on Saturday and the bookmakers cannot call that match with both teams available at 10/11 to win.

Both Wales and France are 11/2 to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup at the end of the tournament, but the odds suggest the winner will come from the southern hemisphere semi-final next Sunday.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.