by Warren Gatchell
The All Blacks needed to execute a more direct version of their normal game for the semi final against Australia as they could no longer rely on their chief play maker, Daniel Carter.
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That did not stop them from pummeling a tired Wallabies team that couldn't cope with the physicality of two bruising games in the space of a week.
Aaron Cruden played like a flyhalf without fear - the 22-year-old cancer survivor executed an intelligent kicking game that controlled the territory while the back three owned the heavens under the high ball.
Referee Craig Joubert kept David Pocock honest at the break down with the man of the match from the South Africa quarter final coming in a distant second to Richie McCaw in this key area.
Grandmaster McCaw taught the student a lesson in playing the ref, often blurring the line between legality and illegality, and only giving away penalties when they couldn't do much damage.
As the game drew to a close I remembered the 2003 semi final, where George Gregan shouted “four more years” at the Kiwis after knocking them out of the competition. The shoe was firmly on the other foot this time round and in the true spirit of rugby.....
“As the last scrum went down at Eden Park on Sunday night, with masses of All Blacks supporters standing and applauding their team for an inevitable victory, the Wallabies halfback, Will Genia, showed his grace under pressure by murmuring to Richie McCaw: 'Well done.' And so it was" (Sydney Morning Herald)
Australia face Wales this Friday in the game which no team wants to be in, the 3rd place play off.
Aussies set to cut loose?
After their shock defeat to Scotland a few years ago in Murrayfield, the Wallabies went on to put a cricket score past Wales in the Millenium stadium. I have a feeling the Wallabies will try a looser Super Rugby attacking type of game on a weary, Warburton-less, Wales low on confidence and with the 30-hour journey home already in the back of their minds.
The final is what this weekend is really about and it is important to acknowledge New Zealand are the form team of the tournament and thouroughly deserve their place in the final - they have been by quite some distance the best team at RWC 2011.
You can appreciate that their fans are optimistic about returning the Web Ellis trophy to the land of the long white cloud where its absence has been painfully felt for the past 24 years. What you wouldn't expect to hear is that the Auckland city council are already planning a victory parade!
“Auckland Council chiefs are quietly planning a Rugby World Cup victory parade for the All Blacks, bringing back haunting memories of the last one planned - just before New Zealand was knocked out of the 2007 World Cup by France.
The All Blacks' crushing defeat of the Wallabies on Sunday has positioned them as favourites against a France team who have shown little potential to stage an upset”
It gets better...
"A welcome home victory parade was planned during the 1999 cup Auckland councillors were still arguing over who would foot the bill when the All Blacks lost their semifinal against France" (New Zealand Herald)
Oh dear, here we go again, discounting the possibility of a French win. Have they not learnt from the past?
Vincent Clerc on the attack
France love nothing more than being labelled as having no chance and for any neutrals out there, this final has the potential to entertain, I think All Black supporters must surely feel just a wee little bit nervous that their bogey team is in the final as they replay France fight backs from 1999 and 2007 throughout the week on local television.
Not nearly as nervous as the French team must feel though. They do afterall need to face up to a slickly choreographed haka that even includes a throat cutting gesture, quite a change of direction from the one performed in the final back in 1987.
It is sad to think that this is probably the last time we will see the RWC in New Zealand as Rugby World Cup Ltd. demands a hosting fee in excess of €100 million for future tournaments. This is the reason for future tournaments going to large wealthy nations like England in 2015 and Japan in 2019.
Who do you think deserves and crucially can afford to host the 2023 RWC?