RWC: All Blacks deserve final place, says Horwill
AUCKLAND, 16 Oct. - Australia captain James Horwill was gracious in defeat after his side lost 20-6 to New Zealand in the second semi-final of Rugby World Cup 2011 at Eden Park on Sunday.
"Credit to the All Blacks. They outplayed us and deserved to win," Horwill said. "The All Blacks are a great side. When you miss tackles like we did, we hung in there very well but they ticked the scoreboard over in the second half."
Horwill's opposite number Richie McCaw described the win, which will bring about a repeat of the inaugural final in 1987 against France, as "awesome".
"We realised that we were going to have to front up and be on the job for 80 minutes. The intensity was there and every man out there did their bit tonight. I am very happy with that."
McCaw said that while it was a good performance, the focus now moved to the final next Sunday. "We won't get too carried away, but I am very proud," he said.
The All Blacks dominated vast tracts of the match and continued to chip away and increase the lead, but only scored the one first-half try.
Fast and furious
They increased the lead by just six points in a second half in which they were sternly tested by the Wallabies.
After Piri Weepu put the All Blacks ahead 17-6 in the 42nd minute, Australia produced a prolonged period on attack, recycling the ball and trying to find a chink in the New Zealand defence, before finally coughing the ball up.
The play was fast and furious with Australia enjoying plenty of territorial advantage, but making too many mistakes.
Weepu, the hero of New Zealand's quarter-final win over Argentina, was replaced by Andy Ellis in the 57th minute and looked ill on the sideline. His time there lasted just 12 minutes because Ellis had his face bloodied by a front-on tackle and had to leave the field.
And it was Weepu who had the final say, kicking a 35m penalty in the 72nd minute.
Meanwhile, Quade Cooper had a wretched beginning to the game but was growing in confidence. He was causing the All Blacks problems with some good runs and confident kicks.
But it was in the forwards where the All Blacks were dominant, with the scrum strong and the pack quick to pounce on Wallaby errors. They won several penalties as Australian bodies buckled.
In the 76th minute replacement wing Sonny Bill Williams was yellow carded for not using his arms in a tackle and Australia spent much of the final minutes desperately attacking.
After a ferocious first half the All Blacks led 14-6 at the break. New Zealand had dominated, scoring the only try through Ma'a Nonu in the sixth minute.
The tone was set early. Cooper kicked out on the full with the first kick of the game and from the scrum Weepu kicked to the corner perfectly, which launched a furious few minutes of attack.
The try arrived when Israel Dagg made his second scything run and, just before being put into touch, passed superbly inside to Nonu, who had an unchallenged run to the line. Weepu missed the conversion.
Three minutes later a Weepu penalty, after Australia's David Pocock was penalised, hit the upright and bounced back to the All Blacks.
Aaron Cruden made a fine run and at the tackle Pocock was again penalised for not supporting his weight at the ruck. This time Weepu was successful with the kick for 8-0.
From the kick-off Australia went into the New Zealand half for the first time and wing Digby Ioane produced a powerful run with seemingly half the All Blacks hanging off him, before Jerome Kaino finally halted him centimetres from the line.
McCaw was penalised soon after and James O'Connor reduced the deficit to 8-3.
Weepu missed his third penalty after Sekope Kepu collapsed the scrum, but stand-in fly half Cruden made amends after 22 minutes with a 40m drop goal to make the score 11-3.
The Wallabies gradually won territory and hammered away at the All Blacks line. After getting nowhere with the forwards, scrum half Will Genia passed back to the beleaguered Cooper, who slotted a drop goal to make it 11-6.
In the 36th minute Adam Ashley-Cooper was caught offside from Dagg's up-and-under and Weepu goaled to bring the score to 14-6.
Two minutes after the restart, Pat McCabe did not release the ball after being tackled and Weepu kicked the penalty for 17-6.