All Blacks back row Ardie Savea. Photosport/Andrew Cornaga/INPHO

Ireland weren't ruthless enough, the World Cup semi-finalists were

Andy Farrell’s men weren’t able to take more chances in the Kiwi 22 last weekend.

WHAT SEPARATED THE quarter-final winners and losers last weekend?

The teams who took their chances went through.

It’s a cliché for a reason. The sides who were more ruthless are in this weekend’s semi-finals. The teams who let more opportunities slip will be watching on from home.

As we discussed after Ireland’s pool-stage win over South Africa, one of the big concerns was how wasteful Andy Farrell’s side had been with their entries into the opposition 22.

Unfortunately for them, the issue cropped up again last weekend as they lost to New Zealand.

New Zealand were more clinical

According to Opta’s data, Ireland had 15 entries in the New Zealand and scored three tries, but turned the ball over a whopping 12 times.

In contrast, New Zealand had just seven entries into the Irish 22 and scored three tries as well as winning one penalty.

So Ireland had a return of 1.40 points per entry, while New Zealand had a return of 3.67 points per entry.

Those are stark numbers.

South Africa were more clinical

Go to the other huge quarter-final between France and South Africa last weekend and the story is very similar.

France had 13 entries and scored three tries, as well as winning one penalty.

Meanwhile, the Springboks had just seven entries and scored four tries.

So France had a return of 1.69 points per entry, while the Boks notched 3.71 per entry.

Argentina were more clinical

emiliano-boffelli-and-agustin-creevy-celebrate-winning Argentina must be clinical tonight. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Down in Marseille, it was the same story.

Wales and Argentina only had six entries each into the opposition 22.

But there was a difference in how they converted. 

Wales scored two tries but turned the ball over on the four other occasions.

Los Pumas also scored two tries but the difference was that they won penalties on all four of their other visits.

So Wales notched 2.33 points per entry, while Argentina were at 3.83.

England were more clinical

The difference in this game was less pronounced but the theme held true.

Fiji had seven entries into the English 22 and scored two tries, as well as winning one penalty, for a return of 2.00 points per visit.

But England were able to take greater advantage of their entries.

Steve Borthwick’s side had 10 visits into the Fijian 22, where they scored two tries, won three penalties, and also added a drop goal through captain Owen Farrell.

Only four players have successfully kicked drop goals in this World Cup – Farrell, George Ford [3], Lomano Lemeki, and Felipe Etcheverry.

The end result for England last weekend was a return of 2.40 points per entry into the 22.

Who will be most ruthless this weekend?

It’s worth saying that points per 22 entry is certainly not always an indicator of success.

Sometimes teams can get away with wasting multiple visits into the 22 and still win games, often through a combination of defending well and keeping the scoreboard ticking with kicks at goal from outside the 22.

There are obviously a huge number of reasons why teams can fail to convert in the 22. Knock-ons, breakdown turnovers, going off their feet rucking, lineout botches, scrum penalties, interceptions, passes into touch, the list goes on.

But generally, when teams are at their best, they’re more ruthless than the opposition.

Last weekend was a sharp reminder that when the pressure is on in big World Cup games, the sides that stay composed and make their opportunities count are often the ones who succeed.

So if Argentina are to pull off a shock win over the All Blacks tonight [KO 8pm Irish time, RTÉ], it’s sure that they will need to be at their most clinical in attack as well as managing to cause the Kiwis frustration when they get into the Pumas’ 22.


  • 15. Juan Cruz Mallia
  • 14. Emiliano Boffelli
  • 13. Lucio Cinti
  • 12. Santiago Chocobares
  • 11. Mateo Carreras
  • 10. Santiago Carreras
  • 9. Gonzalo Bertranou
  • 1. Thomas Gallo
  • 2. Julián Montoya (c)
  • 3. Francisco Gómez Kodela
  • 4. Guido Petti Pagadizabal
  • 5. Tomas Lavanini
  • 6. Juan Martin Gonzalez
  • 7. Marcos Kremer
  • 8. Facundo Isa


  • 16. Agustín Creevy
  • 17. Joel Sclavi
  • 18. Eduardo Bello
  • 19. Matias Alemanno
  • 20. Rodrigo Bruni
  • 21. Lautaro Bazan Velez
  • 22. Nicolas Sanchez
  • 23. Matías Moroni

New Zealand:

  • 15. Beauden Barrett 
  • 14. Will Jordan 
  • 13. Rieko Ioane 
  • 12. Jordie Barrett 
  • 11. Mark Telea 
  • 10. Richie Mo’unga 
  • 9. Aaron Smith 
  • 1. Ethan de Groot 
  • 2. Codie Taylor 
  • 3. Tyrel Lomax 
  • 4. Samuel Whitelock 
  • 5. Scott Barrett 
  • 6. Shannon Frizell 
  • 7. Sam Cane (captain) 
  • 8. Ardie Savea 


  • 16. Samisoni Taukei’aho 
  • 17. Tamaiti Williams 
  • 18. Fletcher Newell 
  • 19. Brodie Retallick 
  • 20. Dalton Papali’i 
  • 21. Finlay Christie 
  • 22. Damian McKenzie 
  • 23. Anton Lienert-Brown

Referee: Angus Gardner [Australia].

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