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Relive the 4 greatest semi-final moments in the history of the Rugby World Cup

23 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Relive the 4 greatest semi-final moments in the history of the Rugby World Cup

In the latest instalment in a special series, we look back on the most iconic semi-final moments - recreated as you have never seen them before

The semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup take place this weekend as the four teams still standing edge closer to creating history.

Now, in the latest instalment of our series reliving the most memorable events from each stage of the competition to date, we reflect on the four greatest moments in Rugby World Cup semi-final history.

Josh Lewsey try for England v France (2007)

England had endured a tumultuous four years since winning the Webb Ellis trophy in 2003 – failing to finish higher than third in any of the following four Six Nations as retirement and injury ended the consistency on which their success had been built.

Consequently, they were not expected to make much of a defence of their crown when Brian Ashton led them to the 2007 World Cup having taken over from the much-maligned Andy Robinson whose two-year reign had yielded a win rate of just 41 per cent.

Yet after being humiliated 36-0 by South Africa in their opening game, England qualified from their pool before scraping past Australia in the last eight to set up a semi-final with hosts France.lewseyJust one minute in, scrum-half Andy Gomarsall decided to test out Damien Traille with a teasing box kick that the makeshift full-back tried to shepherd into touch before an awkward bounce left the ball hanging in the air.

With Traille wrong-footed, Josh Lewsey – one of the few survivors from four years earlier – came steaming onto the ball, powering through the tackle to touch down and give England a five-point advantage which ultimately proved the difference in sending them to a remarkable second successive final.

Stirling Mortlock try for Australia v New Zealand (2003)

Despite hosting the tournament, Australia were the underdogs for their semi-final against tournament favourites New Zealand in 2003.

Hardly surprisingconsidering they had been on the receiving end of a 51-20 thumping by the All Blacks in the Tri Nations just three months earlier in the same Telstra Stadium in Sydney that would host their last-four clash.mortlockYet after an unconvincing start that saw New Zealand wait more than five minutes to touch the ball before being thwarted by a seemingly impenetrable defence and two try-saving tackles when they were in possession, the All Blacks tried to force it. 

With just nine minutes gone, Carlos Spencer slung a huge miss pass out towards the wing, only for it to be intercepted by Stirling Mortlock within his own 22.

Roared on by the crowd, the centre streaked away by making the most of his head start on Doug Howlett and Joe Rokocoko – the two fastest players in the world at the time – to complete the 80-metre dash to the line and slide in under the posts.

It gave the Wallabies a lead which they would not relinquish, triumphing 22-10 to become the first defending champions to reach the final four years later.

Jonah Lomu try for New Zealand v England (1995)

With just two caps to his name before the tournament began, Jonah Lomu was a little-known name heading into the 1995 World Cup.

Yet that did not remain the case for long, as the 20-year-old took the event by storm after finishing as joint-top try scorer along with All Blacks teammate Marc Ellis.lomuHaving already bagged a brace against Ireland in the pool stages and touched down against Scotland in the last eight, the fearsome winger continued his terrorising of the Home Nations with a four-try masterclass in a 45-29 semi-final victory against England in Cape Town.

And while the rest of his haul highlighted his breath-taking speed and bamboozling sidestep, it was first of the bunch that will always be remembered for showcasing the brute force that set him apart from any other winger.

Coming just four minutes into the match, Lomu collected a bouncing pass that had sailed over his head from a standing start before handing off the flailing Tony Underwood, evading a desperate lunge by Will Carling and trampling over the helpless Mike Catt as he crashed over the try line.

Created out of nothing, it was a moment of individual brilliance that no other player in the world at that time could conjure.

Richard Dourthe try for France v New Zealand (1999)

Of all the great semi-finals that the World Cup has ever seen, one in particular has gone on to become widely regarded as the greatest rugby match in history.

If France’s chances of beating much-fancied New Zealand at the start of their 1999 semi-final were remote, they were virtually desolate when Les Bleus found themselves 24-10 down at half-time.dourtheYet the French came storming back in the second half to score 33 unanswered points and pull off the biggest shock that rugby had ever seen.

It began with two penalties and two drop goals from Christophe Lamaison and finished with a breakaway try by Phillipe Bernat-Salles – but in between was a moment that epitomised the classic French rugby that had inspired the comeback.

Off the back of a relentless driving maul by the forwards, Lamaison received a pass before delicately lifting a chip over the onrushing defence with the outside of his boot for Richard Dourthe to race onto and touch down deep inside the dead ball area.

It was a wonderfully-crafted try that stood out in the most astonishing semi-final that the World Cup has ever seen.

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READ: Relive the 4 greatest moments in the history of the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals

READ: Rugby World Cup: Greatest Pool Stage moments

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