Our Russian Rugby Spy needs to stay anonymous in certain parts, but he/she is indeed at the RWC and going to the matches.
AUCKLAND, NZ – “Four more years, boys!” – chanted the crowd at Eden Park after full time as the All Blacks beat the Wallabies in front of 60,087 spectators with a convincing 20-6 at the Rugby World Cup semifinal on Sunday.
“We weren’t as effective in the air as the All Blacks, they were superior throughout and that was a big difference.” When they kicked they were able to apply more pressure. The All Blacks are a very good defensive side. We lost our fluency. All credit to the All Blacks, they attacked the ball very well.” – Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans.
The All Blacks got on the board early on with the game’s only try in the sixth minute, when All Black fullback Israel Dagg carried the ball through slack Australian defense, setting up center Ma’a Nonu with an inside pass at pace for the try which scrum half Piri Weepu failed to convert.
Dominating throughout the first half applying pressure on the Wallabies at the set piece, Weepu placed a penalty kick in the 13th minute but missed one three minutes later gained from Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu collapsing the scrum.
Australia’s first crack came two minutes later, when Wallaby wing Digby Ioane carried the ball within All Black five meter, and while his attempt was shut down by All Black defense, New Zealand captain Ritchie McCaw’s non-release of the tackle earned a penalty kick for the Wallabies, which 21-year-old prodigy James O’Connor placed with confidence in the 16th minute, putting the Wallabies on the score board at 8-3.
Six minutes later, 21-year-old All Black fly half Aaron Cruden also showed what earned his spot on the team, executing a brilliant drop goal.
“Before the game (Conrad) Smith and Dan (Carter) said ‘don’t be shy to have a nudge’ and that went over pretty sweetly.” – Cruden said.
Not finding a gap in a very clinical All Black defense, Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper settled for the drop goal as well in the 32nd minute, that signaling the final time the Wallabies scored in the game, and with a 38th minute penalty kick by Weepu, the sides went to break 6-14.
While the Wallabies still seemed to be in it for the second half, providing one of the most exciting games of the tournament, it was Weepu who could capitalize on Australian mistake in the 43rd, placing a penalty kick, only to miss another one 13 minutes later. Dagg also missed a poor drop goal attempt in the 59th and young Cruden failed a penalty attempt in the 66th. While Weepu was replaced by substitute scrum half Andy Ellis in the 57th minute, he returned only twelve minutes later as Ellis got blood binned, to place his final penalty kick in the 73rd minute, after the All Blacks showed a superb scrum effort pushing Wallabies front row over their own ball, who got penalized for driving the scrum upward.
“There’s not much to say, they beat us in every facet. They used the ball well and the physicality was up there. I guess that’s what you need to win a Rugby World Cup semi-final and the All Blacks had it. They deserved that win. We turned up with the right mindset, they just wanted it more. They defended solidly at the breakdown and kicked to the corners early on to set up field position. Everything went their way tonight and we couldn’t do anything about it. They starved us of all the ball. If they play like they did tonight, they will be difficult for France to beat.” – said O’Connor.
Seven minutes before full time Sonny Bill Williams replaced Nonu, only to be sent off with a yellow card three minutes later for a shoulder charge against Cooper, leaving the All Blacks fourteen against Wallabies’ fifteen for the final four minutes, but the Wallabies failed to capitalize on their advantage, booking themselves a place in the Bronze Finals against Wales on 21 October at Eden Park. The All Blacks will face France in the Finals on 23 October at the same venue.
“It’s awesome. We realised that we were going to have to front up and be on the job for 80 minutes. The intensity was there. Every single man out there did their bit tonight. That’s what you have to do in World Cup rugby. I’m very happy with that.” – All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.