|Cory Jane splitting the Wallby defense|
|Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper fending off a tackle|
|All Blacks coach Graham Henry embracing Conrad Smith after the win|
AUCKLAND, 16 Oct. - The chance to repeat history awaits the All Blacks following their dominant 20-6 semi-final victory over Australia at Eden Park.
A try by centre Ma’a Nonu, four penalties by Piri Weepu and a cool drop goal from Aaron Cruden secured New Zealand a place in the Rugby World Cup 2011 final against France, the team they beat the last time they lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, in 1987.
"It's awesome," captain Richie McCaw said. "We realised that we were going to have to front up and be on the job for 80 minutes.
"The intensity was there. Every single man out there did their bit tonight. That's what you have to do in World Cup rugby."
New Zealand’s ferocious play left the Australians scrambling to respond for much of the match, with the Wallabies now set to face Wales in the play-off for bronze.
"There's not much to say," wing James O’Connor said. "They beat us in every facet. They used the ball well and the physicality was up there. I guess that's what you need to win a Rugby World Cup semi-final and the All Blacks had it.
"They deserved that win. They lifted their physicality and we've never met physicality like that before."
Set the tone
The All Blacks were quick to take control of the match, while Australian fly half Quade Cooper set the tone for his game with his first touch. He kicked the ball out on the full from kick-off, much to the delight of a vocal crowd wearing mostly black.
"It was a tough night for all the boys. Nobody likes coming second," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said.
New Zealand set the pace early by playing with tempo and the early charge forward paid dividends in the sixth minute when Nonu crossed the line after good work by Israel Dagg.
"We came out and played with spirit and great control," All Blacks number 8 Kieran Read said. "It was outstanding work from our forwards and they really put us on the front foot."
Referee Craig Joubert kept a careful eye on the breakdown, with Australia flanker David Pocock conceding two penalties in quick succession for leaving his feet at the ruck.
At the other end of the pitch a penalty against Pocock's opposite number McCaw gave Australia their first points courtesy of O’Connor’s boot.
As Cooper struggled to find his rhythm, the pressure of the famous All Blacks number 10 jersey did not get to young fly half Cruden, who joined the New Zealand squad two weeks ago following Dan Carter’s exit from the tournament through injury.
"It has been a pretty surreal couple of weeks,” the 22-year-old said. “It was great to get the late call-up and great to get called up to a World Cup semi-final. We really stepped up tonight and had a fantastic 80 minutes.
"Australia really tested us, especially in those first 30 minutes. We stood up to it and scored points when we could."
The All Blacks continued their high-tempo play in the second half and Weepu’s successful penalty kick after two minutes brought up New Zealand’s 2,000th RWC point.
Australia’s best chance came late in the match but the All Blacks defence stood firm in the final minutes, despite being reducted to 14 men after replacement Sonny Bill Williams was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge on Cooper.
As the clock wound down, chants of "four more years" rang out around Eden Park with the bulk of the 60,087 crowd revelling in the chance to finally return Australian legend George Gregan’s famous taunt from RWC 2003.
"It's sort of hard to summarise the feeling after a loss like this,” Wallaby second row Dan Vickerman said. “Unfortunately there's not a next week for us. The group is pretty low. It's devastating. Any Test you play for your country is special. It's just unfortunate it's against Wales next week.”