All Blacks out-muscle Wallabies, into final

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 22:50 16/10/2011
Lyle McMahon

A capacity crowd at Auckland's Party Central on Queens Wharf celebrate the All Blacks win over the Wallabies.

NZ v AUS
FIONA GOODALL/Fairfax Media Zoom
The All Blacks celebrate their win over Australia.
Keven Mealamu
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
THE BIG PUSH-OFF: All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu fends off Wallabies No 6 Rocky Elsom.

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REVIEW: The forwards laid the foundation and Aaron Cruden provided the polish as a composed All Blacks side cast aside Australia to enter next Sunday's Rugby World Cup final.

The All Blacks will line out against France brimming with confidence after this impressive 20-6 semifinal effort at Eden Park.

The forwards hoed into their work early in a powerful opening quarter that set the tone for the match.

Every forward played their part, with the back row huge and the tight five in dominant form, including their work around the park where prop Owen Franks was persistently menacing.

The scrum was massive and the lineout accurate.

And behind them Cruden looked class as he stepped into this high-pressure scenario.

Cruden's running game probed the Wallabies' defence and out wide Cory Jane, Israel Dagg and Richard Kahui reigned supreme under the high ball.

The All Blacks received massive support from the crowd of 60,087.

They were pumped for the final stanza as they realised they were on the verge of making their third final in seven attempts and obliterating their horror World Cup record against the Wallabies that had seen two previous World Cup defeats.

New Zealand's defence was like a blanket and the Wallabies never got a sniff of the line bar a couple of forward surges.

The All Blacks did a fine job of negating the threat of Australian halfback Will Genia, forcing him to run sideways and cutting him down behind the advantage line.

As a result Quade Cooper's nightmare World Cup continued with another error-riddled performance, much to the delight of the fans dressed in black.

He even copped a shoulder charge from his good mate Sonny Bill Williams with five minutes left that put a little bit of unnecessary pressure on the home side.

But the All Blacks held firm to wind down the clock and there was the sight of Kahui dumping Cooper into touch with the final act of the match.

Now France, their other World Cup nemesis looms in the final which is a repeat of the inaugural title match in 1987 on the same ground. A case of history repeats?

The Wallabies had a horror start when Quade Cooper's kickoff went out on the full and they spent the opening phase on defence as wave after wave of All Blacks attack bombarded them.

Eventually Israel Dagg made enough space down the right touchline to set up Ma'a Nonu for the opening try.

The pressure was relentless and David Pocock was twice penalised at the breakdowns. Piri Weepu missed the first goal but got the second Australia finally got into the All Blacks 22 and got instant reward with a James O'Connor penalty in the 15th minute.

Another Weepu penalty wasn't good for the anxious New Zealand fans but a long range drop goal from Aaron Cruden was heartening.

Cooper returned the favour at the other end in another rare raid from the Wallabies.

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Weepu gave the All Blacks a bit of breathing space with a 40m penalty close to the break and New Zealand went into halftime at 14-6.

The All Blacks got the restart they wanted with a penalty in front of the posts and Weepu did the business.

The third quarter was torrid, battled out in the middle of the park with the All Blacks looking for the killer blow and the Wallabies equally desperate for a strike to get back into the game.

Eventually it was Weepu's fourth penalty seven minutes from time that looked to make the game safe for the All Blacks, giving them a 14-point lead.

They were more than good enough to seal this vital victory from there.

Result:

All Blacks 20 (Ma'a Nonu try; Piri Weepu 4 pen; Aaron Cruden drop goal) Australia 6 (James O'Connor pen; Quade Cooper drop goal). HT: 14-6.

- Stuff

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