Awesome All Blacks have world in their hands

New Zealand 20 Australia 6

Quade Cooper, probably the least popular man in New Zealand, started this second World Cup semi-final with a schoolboy error and ended it on the uncomfortable end of a schoolyard ragging, but in between times he pulled every trick he ever mastered – and a fair few that were still beyond him – in a bold attempt to keep Australia, his adopted country, in the hunt for the Webb Ellis Trophy. Unfortunately for him and the rest of the Wallaby nation, it takes more than a lone rugby conjuror to lead the All Blacks up the garden path in Auckland. There could have been 15 Coopers on the field yesterday and the hosts would still have won going away.

Some of the stuff produced by New Zealand in the opening 20-odd minutes was jaw-dropping: it may have been the best quarter of rugby played by anyone, anywhere, since the French put 33 unanswered points past them at Twickenham at the same stage of the 1999 tournament. A less resourceful side than Australia would have conceded a point a minute for the duration of the onslaught and the fact they emerged from it a mere five points to the bad was on the remarkable side of astonishing. Still, they never quite recovered from the shock.

The whole of New Zealand now believes the job is done: they assume the All Blacks will end their 24-year wait for a world title because they cannot see for the life of them how this current French vintage – so defensive-minded against Wales on Saturday, so negative in so many ways – can possibly resist the likes of Israel Dagg and Cory Jane, Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu. Not to mention a pack greater than the sum of its parts and capable, on this evidence, of generating heat at the breakdown bordering on the molten.

One New Zealander certainly thinks they have it in the bag – and he happens to be the coach of the Wallabies. "The All Blacks showed they are more than capable of winning that final," said Robbie Deans, chastened by the magnitude of his side's defeat. "The will is there, they have an experienced group well versed in what they're trying to achieve and a lot of support around them. They've worked hard for this opportunity: there's a core of people for whom this is the third crack. You can see the desire in the way they approach their work and they'll take some stopping from here on in."

Cooper could not have expected too many favours from his countrymen – neither those on the pitch nor those in the 60,000-strong crowd. He received precisely none. The outside-half booted the kick-off out on the full and then found himself ushering a clever little roller from Piri Weepu into touch four metres from his own line. Suddenly, the All Blacks were in full flood: their tempo was ferocious, their intensity at the tackle area almost blood-curdling. When Dagg, lightning quick at full-back, cut a line into the Wallaby 22, beat Rocky Elsom's covering tackle and flicked a scoring pass inside to Nonu with his foot a gnat's crotchet away from the right touchline, the audience celebrated a truly sensational try with due abandon.

It did not stop there. Australia's best forwards, the flanker David Pocock and the magnificent captain James Horwill, fought hammer and tongs, as did the hooker Stephen Moore, but they were blown away. Weepu, no great shakes as a Test marksman, hit the spot with a penalty on 12 minutes following some lovely quickstep work from Aaron Cruden, and even though James O'Connor cut the deficit in similar style after Digby Ioane's dangerous surge to the All Black line, the writing was on the wall. On any other day, Ioane would have scored. On this day, Jerome Kaino and Keven Mealamu somehow did enough to keep him out.

Cruden's drop goal early in the second quarter was too early in the piece to be decisive, but once the New Zealanders were more than a full score ahead, it was obvious they would take some catching. Had the Wallabies been able to field Kurtley Beale at full-back and keep Adam Ashley-Cooper in midfield, they may have threatened. Had Matt Giteau been in their squad, rather than in a broadcasting studio somewhere, they might have rescued something. As it was, they were a distant second-best.

Even at the last knockings, with the game lost, they could not break the New Zealanders' iron resolve: indeed, when their last attack broke down, the ball was hacked downfield towards the Wallaby corner and Cooper had to tidy up in the face of four rampant All Blacks hell-bent on mischief. To his credit, he tried to stand his ground – but the failure was inevitable. As a summing-up of the previous 79 minutes and 50 seconds, it was perfect.

New Zealand: Try Nonu; Penalties Weepu 4; Drop goal Cruden. Australia: Penalty O'Connor; Drop goal Cooper.

New Zealand I Dagg; C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu (S Williams 77), R Kahui; A Cruden, P Weepu (A Ellis, 58; Weepu, 73; Ellis, 78)); A Woodcock, K Mealamu (A Hore, 67), O Franks (B Franks, 84), B Thorn, S Whitelock (A Williams 58), J Kaino (V Vito, 85), R McCaw (capt), K Read.

Australia A Ashley-Cooper; J O'Connor, A Fainga'a (R Horne, 64), P McCabe (B Barnes, 36-h-t and 47), D Ioane; Q Cooper, W Genia; S Kepu (J Slipper, 20), S Moore (T Polota-Nau, 69), B Alexander, D Vickerman (R Simmons, 22-27 and 62), J Horwill (capt), R Elsom, D Pocock, R Samo (B McCalman, 62).

Referee C Joubert (South Africa).

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices