LONDON — The latest at the Rugby World Cup (all times local):
New Zealand advanced to the Rugby World Cup final by beating South Africa 20-18 in an attritional game in wet conditions on Saturday, keeping on track for a first successful defence of the title.
The All Blacks scored both of the semifinal's tries at Twickenham, through flanker Jerome Kaino in the sixth minute and reserve back Beauden Barrett in the 52nd, and recovered from a 12-7 deficit at halftime.
South Africa's game plan, based on tough defence and kicking at every opportunity, frustrated New Zealand in the first half but was less effective after the break. The Springboks' points came from six penalties — five by flyhalf Handre Pollard in the first half and another from his replacement, Pat Lambie.
Flyhalf Dan Carter kicked the rest of New Zealand's points through two conversions, a penalty and a dropped goal, in a match that stayed tense until the end.
Australia and Argentina meet on Sunday in the second semifinal.
South Africa leads New Zealand 12-7 at halftime in the Rugby World Cup semifinal after four penalty goals flyhalf Handre Pollard and some impressive defence.
All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino scored the only try of the first half, collecting a flicked pass from captain Richie McCaw to cross in the right corner in the sixth minute. Kaino ended the half in the sin-bin for deliberately playing the ball from an offside position in the 38th minute, which was New Zealand's ninth penalty of the game so far.
New Zealand has dominated possession and territory in wet conditions, but has been dominated at the breakdown. Stuck in their own quarter much of the half, the Springboks' discipline has been impressive and they will aim to take advantage of having a man extra early in the second half.
Pollard has been successful with all of his penalties attempts. Dan Carter converted Kaino's try, but missed a shot at goal from a penalty.
South Africa's players stood in a line and linked arms to face New Zealand's pre-game Haka, which was led by veteran replacement hooker Keven Mealuma.
Springboks flyhalf Handre Pollard has kicked off, with the rain holding off but the skies above Twickenham looking threatening.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is in the crowd at Twickenham, hoping to see the All Blacks reach a World Cup final for a record fourth time.
There's been hardly a spot of rain so far this tournament, which has been played in glorious autumn weather — by British standards, anyway. But that could change with showers that splattered this part of southwest London in the early afternoon expected to return by match time in the Rugby World Cup semifinal between New Zealand and South Africa.
Who would that favour? It would certainly put a premium on good handling — both teams have that — and make for a tighter game, which would benefit the Springboks, who are the underdogs.
Games between these two rugby powers have lately gone the way of the All Blacks, who have won 10 of the last 12 meetings. South Africa's two victories in that run have been at home.
The tweed of the so-called Twickenham Man — the name given to the archetypal England rugby follower — has been replaced by All Blacks jerseys and the vibrant colours donned by Springboks supporters, some of whom have been performing dances outside the stadium.
Pumas backrower Leonardo Senatore says his teammates with experience in Rugby World Cup semifinals have been leading by example in preparations for Sunday's knockout match against two-time champion Australia.
Inside centre Juan Martin Hernandez and flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe were involved in the Pumas run to third place in 2007, when they beat France in the group stage and in the third-place match.
"We haven't talked about it, maybe we will today," Senatore said of the 2007 semis. "They have a lot of experience but show it more on the field than off it.
"We watched how they carry themselves on the pitch and that is the best thing we can do."
And then there were four.
The semifinals of the Rugby World Cup are about to begin under overcast skies and forecast showers at Twickenham, where defending champion New Zealand plays South Africa in the sport's most intense rivalry that started in 1921.
On Sunday, Australia plays Argentina, also at Twickenham.
It's a southern hemisphere takeover, with Europe not represented in the last four for the first time in eight editions of the World Cup.
Both teams have got off their buses and walked 50 metres between two lines of flag-waving supporters outside Twickenham's Lion Gate entrance. Spectators stood on the stairwells overlooking that entrance for a view of the teams.
The Associated Press