All Blacks within touching distance after seeing off Australia
New Zealand are now just one win away from ending 24 years of hurt as they overpowered Australia to book a World Cup final spot thanks to a 20-6 victory at Eden Park.
The Wallabies had beaten the All Blacks at the semi-final stage in both the 1991 and 2003 tournaments but were always on the back foot in Auckland.
Ma’a Nonu set Graham Henry’s men on their way and two Piri Weepu penalties and an Aaron Cruden drop-goal gave them a 14-6 half-time lead.
And while Australia couldn’t add to a first-half James O’Connor penalty and Quade Cooper drop-goal after the break, two more Weepu penalties sent New Zealand into a World Cup final on home soil against France.
Kiwi wing Cory Jane took home the man-of-the-match award and the 28-year-old praised his fellow All Blacks who are now favourites to win their first World Cup since 1987, despite missing some big names like fly-half Dan Carter.
“We talked about the back three working well during the week,” he said. “We’ve got some classy guys missing with people like Carter but we managed to do it well at times against Australia.
“We got a good start. We needed it and we can take a bit of confidence out of what we’ve done.
“My back took a bit of a beating out there as it was one hell of a Test match but it’s good to be through the semi-final and now we hope to have a good week before the final.
“We still have a lot of work to do but it’s good to get the win.”
Australia were on the back foot right from the off as Cooper’s kick-off went directly into touch to allow Weepu to kick into the corner to pile on the pressure.
Jane and Israel Dagg looked threatening early on and it was the latter’s run through the middle that saw Nonu drive over in the corner to open the scoring.
Weepu missed the conversion and a straightforward penalty but made amends moments later, but nor before O’Connor had notched one of his own for the score to sit at 8-3.
Cruden, who started the competition as New Zealand’s third-choice fly-half, kept the All Blacks ticking and nailed a long-range drop-goal.
Despite losing prop Sekope Kepu to injury Australia began to grow into the game but after Cooper kicked a drop-goal an offside allowed Weepu to kick another penalty before the interval.
Weepu added another penalty shortly after the restart and as the All Blacks’ forwards too control, kicked the final score of the game late in the second-half.
And although replacement Sonny Bill Williams spent the last five minutes in the sin bin for a shoulder charge on Cooper, Australia couldn’t muster a fight-back as New Zealand strolled into the showpiece with Les Bleus.