New Zealand to play France in the Rugby World Cup final
All Blacks beat Australia 20-6 in semifinal at Eden Park in Auckland
Ma'a Nonu scores only try of the match in the first half
Australia go into third place playoff against Wales
Hosts New Zealand reached the final of the Rugby World Cup with a 20-6 win over Australia Sunday at Eden Park in Auckland.
They will play France next Sunday on the same ground in a repeat of the 1987 final, which they won 29-9 and remains their only World Cup triumph.
The All Blacks dominated from the start against their Tasman rivals and scored the only try of the match through centre Ma’a Nonu in the sixth minute.
It followed a brilliant run and pass by full-back Israel Dagg and they were 14-6 in front at the interval.
Two second half penalties from scrum-half Piri Weepu, taking over the kicking role from the injured Dan Carter, sealed victory for a relieved home team who carried huge weight of expectation.
Australia will play Wales in the third place playoff next Friday but could have few complaints about the result of the match.
“It was an outstanding performance. I’m very proud of them. We just need to regroup next week and do the same thing,” said New Zealand coach Graham Henry.
“The guys’ character was superb and you can’t ask for more than that. Everyone on the field gave 100 per cent, so it’s a good feeling to have the job done,” he told AFP.
It went wrong from the start for Australia as their playmaker Quade Cooper sent his kick straight into touch to put his team under immediate pressure.
From that passage of play, Dagg beat Anthony Fainga’a and Rocky Elsom to send Nonu over.
Scrum half Weepu missed the conversion in a nervy start but was on target with a penalty after Australia flanker David Pocock was pulled up for a ruck infringement.
James O’Connor had the Wallabies on the board with a penalty but New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden, playing after groin injuries ruled both Carter and Colin Slade out of the World Cup, put his team further ahead with a 22nd minute drop-goal.
Cooper pulled it back to 11-6 for Australia with a neatly-taken drop-goal but Weepu added a penalty before the half to open up an eight-point lead again.
Weepu’s two kicks in the second half wrapped up his side’s final appearance as they look to repeat the emphatic victory they enjoyed over France in the pool stage.