All Blacks power into World Cup final
Sportal.co.nz 16 Oct 2011 Getty Images
Australia's Eden Park bogey was extended while New Zealand claimed a first World Cup victory over their trans-Tasman neighbours after their losses in 1991 and 2003.
It wasn't the most flowing of contests, it was all to do with power, brute power in the traditional New Zealand sense. Nothing demonstrated that more than a pile-driving New Zealand scrum in the 71st minute which destroyed the Australian scrum resulting in a penalty which halfback Piri Weepu, who was called back onto the field as a blood bin replacement for Andrew Ellis, goaled for the winning advantage.
Considering his foot had been under intense scrutiny throughout the week before the game captain Richie McCaw belied any concerns with a vigorous demonstration of his right to still be regarded as the best flanker in the world. He had an improved Kieran Read and the admirable blindside flanker par excellence Jerome Kaino as outstanding assistants.
Whether covering in defence or leading the way in driving play the trio set an example and the tight core did their job superbly. To see prop Owen Franks tying down dangerous halfback Will Genia and wing Digby Ioane up was a demonstration of New Zealand's application. Hooker Keven Mealamu was a low-slung runner with ball in hand as he inched over the advantage line with lock Brad Thorn close behind.
Weepu was again outstanding and while landing four penalty goals he achieved 100 points in Test matches.
Wing Cory Jane had few chances to run but was magnificent under high kicks both offensively and defensively.
Australia were forced into basic errors as the result of the intensity of New Zealand's defence. Ioane dropped the ball in one instance and was then guilty of running into one of his own players accidentally in front of him. In a later move wing James O'Connor attempted a miracle off-load only to conceded the ball to New Zealand. Errors were there from the start of the match for the Australians.
New Zealand could hardly have imagined a better opening when Australian first five-eighths Quade Cooper begun the game by putting the kick-off straight into touch. The result was instant pressure being applied with fullback Israel Dagg twice making telling breaks the second of which resulted in the opening try, after five minutes to second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu.
The New Zealand forwards were like lions unleashed, hammering into rucks and mauls, getting the low drive on the Australians and creating quick ball which halfback Piri Weepu released with ease.
Australian flanker David Pocock was penalised twice in the first 12 minutes for breakdown infringements with Weepu converting one penalty in the 12th.
But Australia struck back when Weepu failed to find touch with James O'Connor finding room for fellow wing Digby Ioane to race to the line, just being held up short by rapid All Blacks defence and it was McCaw's turn to be penalised in the 16th minute for O'Connor to land the goal.
It appeared New Zealand had decided to deliberately target Cooper, wherever he was in his covering role he was peppered with high kicks and All Blacks chasers bearing down on him with telling effect.
Australia had a solid period on attack around the 30th minute but all they got from it was a Cooper dropped goal. New Zealand got back onto attack and a basic penalty from a high kick being knocked on and then touched by fullback Adam Ashley-Cooper resulted in a penalty goal for Weepu in the 35th minute.
Australia 6 (James O'Connor pen; Quade Cooper dropped goal) New Zealand 20 (Ma'a Nonu try; Piri Weepu 4 pen; Aaron Cruden dropped goal). HT: 6-14
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