The quarter-finals kick off with a banger in Marseille, as Wales meet Argentina for the right to face either Ireland or New Zealand in Saint-Denis in the last four.
Wales have yet to put a foot wrong in France, qualifying out of Pool C with 19 points and four wins in four matches, rounding off the first stage of the competition with a 43-19 win over Georgia in Nantes last Saturday.
Head coach Warren Gatland has made six personnel changes to his starting XV from the team that defeated Georgia last time out, with fit-again Dan Biggar starting at fly-half, and Tommy Reffell retained at openside flanker. Captain Jac Morgan moves to blindside flanker and Aaron Wainwright replaces the injured Taulupe Faletau at eight.
After an opening round defeat against England, Argentina recovered to claim the second Pool D quarter-final berth with a 39-27 win over Japan at Stade de la Beaujoire six days ago.
Scrum-half Tomás Cubelli has replaced Gonzalo Bertranou and Facundo Isa has come into Los Pumas’ back row for the injured Pablo Matera as head coach Michael Cheika makes two changes to his starting XV.
But Cheika’s reliance on experience hasn’t wavered. The side to face Wales in Marseille features nine survivors from the squad that beat Ireland in Cardiff at the same stage of Rugby World Cup 2015 – Matías Alemanno, Agustín Creevy, Tomás Cubelli, Facundo Isa, Tomas Lavanini, Julián Montoya, Matías Moroni, Guido Petti and Nicolás Sánchez.
FIXTURE: Wales v Argentina
GROUND: Stade de Marseille (67,847)
KICK-OFF: 17:00 local time (GMT+2)
Wales have the upper hand in matches against Los Pumas, winning 15 and drawing one of the 22 tests between the two sides, including both past meetings at Rugby World Cups, in 1991 – their first full test meeting – and 1999.
Wales did not cap players involved in the three matches prior to the RWC 1991 pool phase game in Cardiff, which date back to 1968.
Tries from Taulupe Faletau and scrum-half Tomos Williams helped to secure a 20-13 win for Wales the last time the two sides met, in Cardiff, in November 2022. It was a welcome result for Wales at the time, coming a week after they had shipped 55 points against New Zealand. The following weekend, however, they lost to Georgia.
KEY TALKING POINT
Wales’ changing fortunes under Warren Gatland. A few eyebrows were raised when the coach claimed the Welsh would “surprise a few people at the World Cup”, after they had won only one of their Six Nations matches and one of their summer internationals this year. But Wales are now one win away from a third Rugby World Cup semi-final in four editions.
Louis Rees-Zammit v Mateo Carreras. Two high-velocity hat-trick heroes from the final round of the pool phase face off on the Marseille turf.
Rees-Zammit will be the only player to have started all five of Wales’ games at RWC 2023 to date. He has scored five tries in four matches, with one assist also to his name. He leads the team for defenders beaten (14) and carry metres (325), as well as the joint-most line breaks with four alongside George North.
Jaco Peyper (South Africa). Peyper was in charge of Wales’ tense come-from-behind quarter-final win over France in Japan four years ago.
WALES Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis; Will Rowlands, Adam Beard; Jac Morgan (captain), Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright
Replacements: Dewi Lake, Corey Domachowski, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza, Tomos Williams, Sam Costelow, Rio Dyer
ARGENTINA Juan Cruz Mallía; Emiliano Boffelli, Lucio Cinti, Santiago Chocobares, Mateo Carreras; Santiago Carreras, Tomas Cubelli; Thomas Gallo, Julián Montoya (captain), Francisco Gómez Kodela; Guido Petti Pagadizabal, Tomas Lavanini; Juan Martin González, Marcos Kremer, Facundo Isa
Replacements: Agustín Creevy, Joel Sclavi, Eduardo Bello, Matias Alemanno, Rodrigo Bruni, Lautaro Bazán Vélez, Nicolás Sánchez, Matías Moroni