New Zealand beat Australia 20-6 to face France in the final of the Rugby World Cup.
There was no choking by the All Blacks this time. After losing both previous World Cup semifinal clashes against Australia, the All Blacks finally got one back on their archrivals with a 20-6 victory Sunday night to set up a final against France.
And so the perennial favourites are back in the championship match, and expected to reclaim the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time since beating France in the final of the inaugural tournament in 1987.
Australia s bid to be the first team to win three World Cups will have to wait. And the one statistic that most irks New Zealand rugby fans having one fewer World Cup titles than Australia could be rubbed out within a week.
From the moment the Wallabies New Zealand-born flyhalf Quade Cooper put the opening kickoff out on the full, the All Blacks were on top.
New Zealand fullback Israel Dagg shredded the Australian backline defense twice early, his second break resulting in a try for Ma a Nonu in the sixth minute. Piri Weepu missed the sideline conversion but added two penalties in each half to keep the All Blacks well out of Australia s reach.
After fending off one serial World Cup hindrance, to great national relief, the All Blacks face another against France. The French have scored some epic upsets over New Zealand namely the 1999 semifinal and in the quarterfinals four years ago but are seemingly in disarray after just edging a 14-man Wales team 9-8 in Saturday s semifinal.
That makes the French dangerous. After losing to New Zealand and Tonga in the pool stage, they just scraped through to the knockout round before overpowering England in the quarterfinals. After a close call against Wales, they ll be primed for the big occasion.
So will New Zealand. Since losing to Australia in the Tri-Nations decider at Brisbane in August, the All Blacks have been gathering momentum in a run of six wins that include a 37-17 pool stage victory against the French.