The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fiery clash on the cards

Sydney: When World Cup organisers stripped New Zealand of their chance to co-host the tournament, one of the first things they did was rearrange the draw so the All Blacks would meet Australia in the semi-finals.

The trans-Tasman rivals had originally been scheduled to meet in the final but the collapse of the co-hosting agreement forced organisers to revert back to the original seedings and set them on a new collision course.

Matches between Australia and New Zealand have always been among the fiercest on the rugby calendar but the bitter wrangle over the hosting arrangements and the prize of a place in the final should add further spice to a potentially explosive match.

Australia captain George Gregan, speaking at a news conference on the eve of Saturday’s match, said the clash would not be for the faint-hearted. “We’re not going to die wondering tomorrow night,” Gregan said. “We’re going to be positive and we’re going to be aggressive.”

New Zealand are favourites but the pressure on them to succeed is enormous. In a country where rugby is almost regarded as a religion, the public is demanding they crush their neighbours.

“Everybody (in the team) is aware of the situation we are in,” All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne said. “You don’t get a second chance. You can’t hold anything back hoping to be in the final, we have to put everything into it.”

The form guide points to a New Zealand win but history says the Wallabies cannot be underestimated.

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