All Blacks vs Wallabies RWC Semi-Final
October 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
All Blacks vs Wallabies. Rugby World Cup semi-final. It doesn’t get much bigger than this.
Last Sunday, at 9AM (UK time) two of rugby’s greatest teams faced off against one another for the third time in World Cup history.
The previous two encounters between these teams on rugby’s biggest stage ended in heartache for the men in black and their supporters.
The most recent World Cup clash, the 2007 semi-final, ended with the haunting words of then-Wallabies half-back George Gregan, “four more years boys”.
But not this time.
All Blacks ‘on fire’
This time the All Blacks came out firing, dominating possession and territory in the opening 10 minutes, leading to a try by #13 Ma’a Nonu.
Nonu’s try in the 7th minute came from a stunning line-break by full-back Isreal Dagg, who, centimetres from the touchline passed the ball back to Nonu who scored in the corner.
Unfortunately it was to be the only try, for either team, in the entire match. The All Blacks had to rely on the boot of half-back Piri Weepu – the ‘hero’ of last weeks quarter final against Argentina – who kicked four penalties, as well as a superb drop-goal by New Zealand’s ‘third’ best 1st 5, Aaron Cruden, in the 23rd minute.
Australia failed to spark
The Wallabies only managed 6 points, a penalty to James O’Conner and drop-goal from ‘public enemy No.1’ Quade Cooper.
Cooper, target by the New Zealand media and public after kneeing All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in the head in the last Bledisloe Cup match back in July.
In spite of the lack of tries, there was pleanty of running rugby, particularly from the All Blacks, who frequently broke the Australian defense, whilst steadfastly holding their own defensive line, even when put under pressure from Australian attack.
The All Blacks backs were in great form, in particular their back three, with winger Cory Jane and full-back Isreal Dagg proving excellent under the high balls delivered to them by the Australians.
Piri Weepu once again showed why he is the country’s premiere half-back – stepping up once again in his leadership, steering the back-line as if he were a 1st 5.
Young-gun steps up
Aaron Cruden, called up only last week due to the World Cup-ending injury to NZ’s premiere 1st 5 Dan Carter.
Called to play early on in last weeks quarter final, Cruden this week proved to be cool, calm and collected, looking like a seasoned pro with his spot-on tactical kicking and line breaks.
In contrast, the Wallabies 1st 5 Quade Cooper had another shocker – kicking the ball out on the full in the opening seconds of the game, fumbling under the high ball and passing the ball to no-one.
In the forwards, captain Richie McCaw once again showed why he is considered to be the world’s best No.7, dominating the break-down and providing pleanty of turn-over ball for his team.
The All Blacks scrum proved to be incredibly dominant, winning 11 to Australia’s 3.
Although Australia ended the game winning the stats in possession (53%), it was the All Blacks who ended up ahead on the scoreboard, 20-6 at full-time.
And in doing so, giving their fans something to cheer about – an All Blacks final on home soil, something that hasn’t happened since the inaugural tournament in 1987.
That final too was against France. It was also the last time that the All Blacks won the World Cup.
Perhaps history will continue to repeat itself this Sunday and the All Blacks will once again lift the William Webb Ellis trophy.