New Zealand put the game to bed early and hung on, dominating an Australian side that just didn’t have enough to really threaten the home side at any stage, winning 20-6 and setting up a replay to that 1987 World Cup Final against France, the only time the All Blacks won the Rugby Union World Cup.
Any talk of New Zealand being the side with more pressure on them soon evaporated. Urgency, ferocity, commitment. The All Blacks too the game to Australia from the first moment and were rewarded for their aggression early on, as Israel Daag (MVP of the tournament?) broke through the lines and managed to slip a pass to Ma’a Nonu who scored the first and only try of the match.
Australia did score a penalty (James O’Connor) after 15 minutes but never got anything going till about half an hour into the game, resulting in a Quade Cooper Drop Kick, making it 11-6. Speaking of Cooper, the Australia no.10, who had a fantastic Super Rugby season, had a rough time most of the night. The Public Enemy no.1 thing got to him it seems, making mistake after mistake, spotted with a few brilliant runs.
New Zealand? Never too brilliant, but every tackle, every defensive stance, every scrum, with heart and passion that the Australian just didn’t have. Even when the Wallabies had to score a try, with less than 10 minutes to go, 20-6 behind, there was never any urgency it seems. Maybe it was just accepting the loss, or maybe it was just bad tactics. Kicking, Punting, clearing. It lead to nowhere.
Cory Jane ruled the skies, showing perfect balance and hands each time he went up to receive a kick. For some reason, or maybe the fear of Dagg’s running, the kicks kept going at Jane. That tactic, like pretty much anything Australia threw at the favorites, didn’t work.
The scrums fell apart, the discipline wasn’t there, and Australia, despite the promise from their Tri Nations success, just weren’t good enough, throughout the tournament, except for the match against South Africa, to prove their worthy of a final, of winning the World Cup.
New Zealand? They wanted to be paid for their efforts, and had their penalty kicking (Weepu and Cruden) been more accurate, the game would have had a much more impressive scoreline that would have left no room for doubt who were the better and deserving side.
On to France, a team they already beat rather easily in the group stage. In 1987 it was the French side in the final, leading to the All Blacks winning the inaugural World Cup and still their only trophy on the biggest stage. All signs from the past month point to a second win, tying things up with Australia and South Africa. But you know, All Blacks and France matches don’t always go to plan…