17 Oct 2011

All Blacks dominate Wallabies to make final

4:50 am on 17 October 2011

New Zealand defeated Australia 20-6 in the second Rugby World Cup semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday night, to make their third-ever appearance in the competition final.

The All Blacks will now be overwhelming favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time since 1987, when they face an erratic France in the final next Sunday. It was a superb all-round performance with the Australians given little opportunity to make an impact.

Radio New Zealand's rugby correspondent says superior execution and outstanding defence saw the home side through. The Wallabies appeared to be short of ideas against an impressive New Zealand side, whose forwards controlled the ball to deny them attacking opportunities.

The All Blacks dominated the early part of the match, and took an early lead, Ma'a Nonu going over following a blistering run by Israel Dagg on the wing. Piri Weepu missed the conversion and also scuppered two penalty attempts in the first half as he failed to repeat the kicking form that helped the All Blacks comprehensively beat Argentina in their quarter-final a week earlier.

However, he got on the scoresheet in the 13th minute with a penalty to establish an 8-0 lead and added two more penalties before the break. Aaron Cruden hit a perfect drop goal, his first for the All Blacks, for an 11-3 lead.

The Wallabies' hit back with James O'Connor scoring a penalty and, with less than eight minutes to go before the interval, Quade Cooper scored a confidence-boosting drop goal after a fairly unimpressive first half hour from the former Tokoroa resident.

Weepu added to his tally with a third penalty three minutes into the second half.

It remained 17-6 to the All Blacks until the 72nd minute with the Australians unable to break the hosts' rhythm. Israel Dagg missed a chance to extend the All Blacks' lead by missing a drop goal attempt from some distance wide.

But Weepu's succesful penalty kick effectively put them in the final, with an almost insurmountable 20-6 lead.

It mattered little that Sonny Bill Williams was sin-binned with just four minutes remaining, despite him being on the field for only three minutes.

The match is sold out with 60,000 people attending, the biggest Test match crowd at Eden Park since the touring Springboks played there in 1956.

NEW ZEALAND 20 (Ma'a Nonu try Piri Weepu 4 pens Aaron Cruden drop goal) bt AUSTRALIA 6 (James O'Connor pen Quade Cooper drop goal) at Eden Park. Referee: Craig Joubert. Crowd: 60,087.