Rugby World Cup: Key clashes

Australia's Radike Samo. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Australia's Radike Samo. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Radike Samo v Kieran Read

The best of Read is easy to miss, but not Samo. The New Zealand No 8 is the workhorse of the pack and does a lot of hard graft that goes un-noticed.

As Richie McCaw battles age and injury, Read - the captain in waiting - has become even more vital to the cause. He produces smashing tackles, with a die-for-the-cause attitude that epitomises the best of Crusaders rugby. But is Read at his best? Probably not, as he is still making
his way back after an ankle injury.

The massive Samo is obvious to one and all, especially with his wild haircut. At 35, he is still athletic enough to be used as wing cover by Australia. Samo could be a match turner if he gets the half gaps from which to launch his runs. He reduced the turps consumption and gave rugby a renewed lash, becoming a weapon of destruction for Ewen McKenzie's revitalised Reds.

Samo is a bit of a test luxury and nothing like Read in regards to work rate, but Australia need line-breaking capabilities and Samo turned out to be the right man in the right place.

Kurtley Beale v Israel Dagg

As he battled a nagging thigh injury this season, Israel Dagg would not have given a World Cup semifinal much thought. He was doing his best to get on the track again after months out with damage he suffered from what looked to be an innocuous punt.

He returned with one game to spare, looked sharp and now, with Mils Muliaina out with a shoulder injury, will wear the No 15 jersey in the biggest game of his brief test
career.

The Wallabies want Kurtley Beale but that decision will not be made until today. His hamstring has been a problem for much of the tournament. He twinged it again last week and has not responded too well.

He is one of their sparkiest counter-attackers, a fullback who is strong under the high ball, has an eye for defensive mismatches with pace and a step to send quivers through any tackler in open space.

If he's fit, the game will be richer for his clash with Dagg.

- NZ Herald

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