I have had an extraordinarily bad year when it comes to predictions, but one prediction I am, and always have been, fairly sure of, is that the All Blacks are going to win the Rugby World Cup this year …
And their performance at Eden Park this evening only reaffirmed my thinking … 60 087 black clad folk went absolutely mental as the All Blacks beat the Aussies 20-6.
I was fortunate enough to have been pretty close to the action in 1995, going to the opening game, semi finals and final of the SA hosted World Cup, and the feeling I get in New Zealand this year is very similar to the feeling I got in SA way back then …
The Kiwis really, really want this … And while they do not have Nelson Mandela to inspire them to greater heights, they do have fantastic ability and skill, and Richie McCaw … If I had a dollar for every time I have heard the chirp “Richie walks on water” I would have enough money to stay for the final.
Instead I head home to sunny SA on Tuesday fairly safe in the knowledge that the All Blacks will add to their trophy of 1987. If they cannot get past the completely inept French side, then they will never win another World Cup ever …
Well done to Craig Joubert for a fantastic performance with the whistle. David Pocock will become a great of the modern day game, but he was given way to much leeway by Bryce Lawrence in the quarter final. Joubert made the breakdown an even contest and as such, there was only one team winning this game.
It was no classic that is for sure, but at times one got the feeling that one was watching a well fed cat playing with a two legged mouse. The fact of the matter is that the All Blacks did not need to get out of second gear to beat this Wallaby side … And they didn’t …
Post match comments Richie McCaw and James Horwill ….
“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.
“We have next week to look forward to but I’m proud of the way the guys fronted up.
“I thought our back three were outstanding. The kicks put the ball in front of us at the right times. It makes it easy for the forwards. The intensity, the ball carriers and the breakdown were key to give us something to work with.
“It’s a pretty good performance tonight but we are going to need it next week so we won’t get too carried away. I’m very proud.”
“One to five, they have all been around for a long time. They show what it is all about to put the All Black jersey on.”
“We didn’t do well enough at certain times of the game to get the pressure off. We didn’t convert some points there in the second half. It’s really disappointing to finish in a way like that.
“They did very well in the air, we knew that. We needed to improve in a couple of areas. Credit to the All Blacks, they outplayed us and deserved to win.
“The All Blacks are a great side. We hung in there very well but they ticked the scoreboard over there in the second half.
“They defended very well. We didn’t execute and put phases together. We didn’t pressure them enough at their end of the field and get a result. They did well and we lacked a little bit in that area.”
And a few key facts and figures:
- New Zealand qualified for their first RWC final in 16 years, joining France, who are in their first for 12 years.
- New Zealand beat Australia in an RWC match for the first time from three attempts.
- The 14-point deficit was Australia’s largest ever RWC knockout match loss.
- New Zealand’s 14-point win was their narrowest in six RWC matches at Eden Park.
- Australia joined France and New Zealand as the only teams to have lost multiple RWC semi-finals.
- Australia lost an RWC knockout match against a Tri Nations opponent for the first time, having previously won four in succession.
- There were no conversions kicked in either RWC 2011 semi-final. This is the first time this has happened at an RWC.
- The two tries scored in the semi-finals of RWC 2011 is the equal lowest total at that stage of the competition, alongside the RWC 1991 semi-finals.
- New Zealand became the seventh team to open the scoring in a Rugby World Cup semi-final with a try. All seven have gone on to win the match.
- Australia lost an RWC match in which they kicked a drop goal for the first time since the 1987 third place play-off loss to Wales.
- Ma’a Nonu’s try was his eighth against the Wallabies, equalling the All Blacks record.
- Richie McCaw played against Australia for the 26th time, breaking the All Blacks record he had shared with Mils Muliaina.
- Graham Henry coached a team in a Rugby World Cup match for the 15th time, breaking Bernard Laporte’s record with France. Henry coached Wales in their four matches at RWC 1999 and the All Blacks in five matches at RWC 2007 and six at RWC 2011.
- South African Craig Joubert refereed his sixth match of RWC 2011. He is the first official to take charge of six matches at one RWC.
- Aaron Cruden’s drop goal was New Zealand’s second of the tournament. RWC 1995 is the only previous edition of the competition at which the All Blacks kicked more than one drop goal.
- Piri Weepu’s third penalty brought up New Zealand’s 2000th Rugby World Cup point. They are the first team to reach that mark. They finished the match with 2004 points.
- Quade Cooper’s drop goal brought up Australia’s 1400th RWC point. They finished the match with 1402 points, which is second to New Zealand.
- Richie McCaw started a Test for the 96th time, breaking the All Blacks record he shared with Mils Muliaina.
- Brad Thorn advanced his record as the oldest All Black to play at a Rugby World Cup to 36 years and 255 days.
- Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith started in the centres together for the 34th time, extending their All Blacks record.
- The All Blacks defeated Australia in New Zealand for the 50th time.