/ Rugby

New Zealand 20-6 Australia

Updated: Sunday, 16 Oct 2011 16:02

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw celebrates the win with Brad Thorn New Zealand were at their ruthless best
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw celebrates the win with Brad Thorn New Zealand were at their ruthless best

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New Zealand will face France in next Sunday's Rugby World Cup final after a comprehensive victory over Australia at Eden Park.

As it happened: how the game unfolded.

Ma'a Nonu scored the only try of the game but Australia were barely in the contest, despite the All Blacks missing four penalty shots at goal.

Had they all been converted, the final scoreline would not have been flattering.

The All Blacks smelt blood from the moment Quade Cooper sent the kick-off straight into touch and they killed off the Wallabies in ruthless fashion.

New Zealand dominated the scrum contest, they bossed the breakdown and they were too quick of thought and deed for the Wallabies.

It was at Eden Park in 1987 that New Zealand won the inaugural World Cup with a victory over France.

On the evidence of this weekend, with France scratching their way to a 9-8 victory over Wales yesterday, few would be against a repeat victory for the All Blacks - and World Cup redemption.

Aaron Cruden started at fly-half today in the absence of both Dan Carter and Colin Slade, while the Wallabies were forced into a back-line reshuffle after losing full-back Kurtley Beale.

The tone was set from the kick-off, which Cooper sent straight into touch. The nerves spread through the Australian side and New Zealand pounced.

Israel Dagg, with electric pace and even quicker feet, carved one opening, and the more direct Nonu another as Australia fell off tackles.

New Zealand were playing at a rip-roaring tempo and the Wallabies appeared shell-shocked, unable to cope, and they received an early let-off when Cruden just failed to pick out Cory Jane.

But the All Blacks were not in a merciful mood.

Dagg created try for Nonu

Israel Dagg - offload

Dagg outfoxed Anthony Fainga'a, fended off Rocky Elsom and then sent Nonu over for the first try with an outrageous one-handed off-load. Weepu missed with a conversion and a penalty to ensure there was still life in the gold and green jerseys.

David Pocock put in a phenomenal defensive performance but he was penalised twice in quick succession in his own 22 as the All Blacks flooded forward, this time with Cruden's break past Digby Ioane, and Weepu finally found his range.

Australia needed to gain a foothold or the game was going to run away from them, and it came after Ioane was released by James O'Connor.

Ioane ran a wonderful angle, fended off Keven Mealamu and then cut inside and drove for the line with Dagg hanging off him.

Jerome Kaino eventually halted Ioane's charge but Richie McCaw was penalised for not releasing and O'Connor booted the Wallabies onto the scoreboard.

Cruden responded with a drop-goal and while he was playing with controlled authority, Cooper was rattled.

Australia captain James Horwill had predicted Cooper, public enemy number one in New Zealand, would produce the best game of his career. He could not have been more wrong.

Cooper was targetted by Kiwis

Richard Kahui drives Cooper to touch

Cooper was repeatedly targeted by high balls and his high-risk game spread panic and indecision in the Wallaby ranks. It was almost as if the All Blacks were toying with their prey.

Cooper did keep his composure to slot a drop-goal after Australia's forwards had hammered away at the New Zealand line and failed to find a chink in the defensive wall.

But Weepu slotted two more penalties either side of the interval to open an 11-point lead, and from there the game ran away from Australia.

O'Connor's clean break thrust the Wallabies onto the front foot and they built pressure on the All Blacks just outside the 22, but they were too congested in midfield and Ioane ran into Horwill.

That was Australia's last chance. New Zealand turned the tables and went for the kill with Nonu trying to jink his way through.

The ball came for Dagg but his drop-goal attempt did not even reach the posts, which meant Cooper had to run it clear and Will Genia was then marched backwards in the tackle.

The All Blacks' dominance of the scrum was absolute in the closing stages.

Cruden missed with a long-range strike after the Australian scrum was penalised on half-way, but with seven minutes remaining, Weepu took full advantage to slot the kick after phenomenal drive from the All Blacks unit.

Sonny Bill Williams made a brief appearance off the bench before he was sin-binned for a shoulder charge on Cooper, but even with 14 men the All Blacks' defence held firm to the death.

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