New Zealand v South Africa: Key battles

New Zealand All Blacks captain Richie McCaw takes part in a training session in Sunbury-on-Thames, west of London, on Oct 22, 2015.
New Zealand All Blacks captain Richie McCaw takes part in a training session in Sunbury-on-Thames, west of London, on Oct 22, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

FLY-HALF: DAN CARTER v HANDRE POLLARD

When Pollard, 21, was growing up, Carter, 33, was one of his heroes. Today, they will clash for the first time at Test level.

Pollard played a huge role in the Springboks' last victory over the All Blacks, scoring two tries in the 27-25 win at Ellis Park last year. But his relative inexperience on the biggest stage will be put to the test again after missing two kicks against Wales in the quarter-finals.

Carter , with 98 more Test caps, will bring composure to his side. His decision-making will be key.

WING: JULIAN SAVEA v BRYAN HABANA

Savea has eight tries in this tournament - three more than any other player - in equalling the tournament record held by Habana and All Blacks great Jonah Lomu (15).

Savea, 25, has already been compared to Lomu. At 1.92m and 107 kg, he is smaller than the New Zealand legend but has a better strike rate with 38 tries in 39 Tests compared to Lomu's 37 tries in 63 internationals. But, like Lomu, he has never crossed the line against the Springboks.

Habana is also a combination of power and pace, even if at 32, he is not as fast as he was before. But he has strengthened other areas of his game, including his defence.

BACK ROW: KIERAN READ v DUANE VERMEULEN

Two of the world's best No. 8s will go head-to-head in a battle of brain versus brawn.

Read, the World Player of the Year in 2013, is more all-rounded and his contributions in defence this tournament have not gone unnoticed. He has won a team-high seven turnovers and stolen a tournament-high five lineouts. He has also completed 36 tackles, and is one of the reasons why the All Blacks have conceded just five tries.

But while he has carried for 124m over five games, Vermeulen has carried 240m in four.

Aggression aside, the 29-year-old has shown great handling skills, with his reverse-flick pass setting up Fourie du Preez for South Africa's match-winning try against Wales.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'New Zealand v South Africa: Key battles'. Print Edition | Subscribe