New Zealand Beat Australia to Enter Rugby World Cup Final

Auckland, Oct 16 (IANS): The All Blacks put up a stellar show in the home of New Zealand rugby Sunday, defeating traditional rivals Australia 20-6 to secure their place in the World Cup final where they face France.

The match got off to a furious and bruising start at the Eden Park here, with New Zealand forwards leading a dominating performance, snaffling loose balls and overpowering the Wallabies in the scrum.

In front of a crowd of more than 60,000, Quade Cooper's opening kick for Australia went out on the full, leading to a scrum that allowed the All Blacks' Piri Weepu to slot the ball back down to the Australian corner, Xinhua reported.

The All Blacks piled on the pressure in the Wallabies' half before Israel Dagg made a breakthrough run in the sixth minute, offloading to Ma'a Nonu, who put the ball down over the line for the only try of the match. Weepu missed the conversion.

Weepu, whose kicking sealed the defeat of Argentina the previous weekend, failed again when a penalty kick hit the post three minutes later, bouncing back to the All Blacks.

An Aaron Cruden run ended in another penalty when Australia's David Pocock was caught failing to support his weight in the ruck, allowing Weepu to make amends and slot the ball through to make it 8-0.

Australia finally penetrated the New Zealand half when wing Digby Ioane dragged a squad of black defenders deep into their own territory, before Jerome Kaino finally brought him down within a meter of the try line.

All Black captain Richie McCaw incurred a penalty shortly after and James O'Connor's kick put Australia on the board.

Weepu missed a third penalty kick given when Sekope Kepu collapsed the scrum.

However, a 40-meter drop goal from Cruden after 22 minutes took the score to 11-3.

A sustained counter attack from the Wallabies took them close to the New Zealand line, but to no avail, so scrum half Will Genia eventually moved the ball to Cooper, who put through a drop goal to make it 11-6.

Adam Ashley-Cooper was caught offside in the 36th minute and Weepu's penalty kick extended the All Blacks' lead to 14-6 going into the break.

Weepu put the ball through the posts again two minutes into the second half after Pat McCabe failed to release the ball from a tackle.

Down 17-6, Australia mounted a sustained offensive, battering away at the All Blacks' defence before finally losing possession.

Weepu was replaced by Andy Ellis in the 57th minute, but returned for a cameo just 12 minutes later when Ellis came off with a bloodied nose.

His return coincided with the culmination of a series of Australian mistakes, allowing Weepu to make the final score with a 35-meter penalty kick in the 72nd minute.

Cooper recovered his confidence after his disastrous start, but too late to capitalise on some strong running and improved kicking.

Replacement New Zealand wing Sonny Bill Williams was shown the yellow card in the 76th minute for putting his shoulder into a tackle, leaving the All Blacks a man short and under sustained pressure for the final minutes.

The All Blacks will face off in their first Rugby World Cup final since 1995 here Oct 23, while Australia will battle for third place against fellow semi-finalists Wales on Oct 21.


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Title: New Zealand Beat Australia to Enter Rugby World Cup Final

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