New Zealand will meet France in the RWC 2011 final after beating Australia in the second semi-final on Sunday 20-6.
The All Blacks dominated vast tracts of the semi-final and continued to chip away and increase the lead, but only scored the one first half try, and increased the lead by just six points in a second half in which they got a stern test from the Wallabies.
After Piri Weepu had put the All Blacks ahead 17-6 in the 42nd minute, Australia had a prolonged period on attack, recycling the ball and trying to find a chink in the New Zealand defence, before finally coughing the ball up.
The play was fast and furious again with Australia enjoying plenty of territorial advantage, but making too many mistakes.
Weepu, the hero of New Zealand’s quarter-final win over Argentina, was replaced by Andy Ellis in the 57th minute and looked ill on the sideline. His time there lasted just 12 minutes because Ellis was had his face bloodied by a front on tackle and had to leave the field.
And it was Weepu who had the final say in the match, kicking a 35 metre penalty in the 72nd minute.
Meanwhile Quade Cooper, who had a wretched beginning to the game, was growing in confidence and was causing the All Blacks a few problems with some good runs and some confident kicks.
But it was in the forwards where the All Blacks were dominant, with the scrum strong and the pack quick to pounce on Wallaby errors and winning several penalties as the Australian bodies buckled.
In the 76th minute replacement wing Sonny Bill Williams was yellow carded for not using his arms in a tackle and Australia spent much of the final minutes on desperate attack on the All Blacks line.
A furious first half between Australia and New Zealand in the second semi-final of RWC 2011 at Eden Park saw the All Blacks go into the break 14-6 ahead.
All Black domination
New Zealand dominated the half and scored the only try, from Ma’a Nonu in the sixth minute.
The tone was set early. Cooper kicked out on the full with the first kick of the game and from the scrum Weepu kicked to the corner perfectly, which launched a furious few minutes of attack.
After six minutes with the All Blacks continually in the Wallabies half, Israel Dagg made his second scything run and, just before being put into touch, passed inside to Nonu, who had an unchallenged run to the line. Weepu missed the conversion.
Three minutes later a Weepu penalty, after Australia’s David Pocock was penalised, hit the upright and bounced back to the All Blacks.
Aaron Cruden made a fine run and at the tackle Pocock was again penalised for not supporting his weight at the ruck. This time Weepu was successful with the kick for 8-0.
From the kick-off Australia went into the New Zealand half for the first time and wing Digby Ioane produced a powerful run with seemingly half the All Blacks hanging off him, before Jerome Kaino finally halted him centimetres from the line.
Richie McCaw was penalised soon after and James O’Connor reduced the deficit to 8-3.
Weepu, so accurate against Argentina a week ago, missed his third penalty after Sekope Kepu collapsed the scrum, but 22-year-old Cruden made amends after 22 minutes with a 40-metre drop goal to make the score 11-3.
The Wallabies gradually grabbed some territory and hammered away at the All Blacks line. After getting nowhere with the forwards, scrum half Will Genia passed back to the beleaguered Cooper, who slotted a drop goal to make it 11-6.
In the 36th minute Adam Ashley-Cooper was caught offside from Dagg’s up-and-under and Weepu goaled to bring the score to 14-6.
Two minutes after the start of the second spell, Pat McCabe did not release the ball after being tackled and Weepu kicked the penalty for 17-6.