The All Blacks were guilty of choking tonight all right. They slowly squeezed the life out of the Wallabies in an intense and thrilling World Cup semi-final at Eden Park to win 20-6 and thoroughly earn the right to face France in the final in seven days.

The showpiece represents the full circle for the All Blacks and Richie McCaw's men will be licking their lips at the prospect of a repeat of the 1987 clash at the same stadium.

Tonight's victory was built on accuracy, aggression and discipline.

The home side had an important mental advantage given the Aussies haven't won at Eden Park since 1986 but, as the men in black have shown, anything can happen in World Cups and the Wallabies were two from two against New Zealand in the tournament's history.


The collateral damage was there for everyone to see - blood streaming from Wallabies faces and prop Sekope Kepu, who had been troubled by an ankle injury in the lead-up to the match, going off in the first half.

In the end they were more clinical than the Aussies despite the immense pressure and expectation in front of a crowd of 60,087. They controlled possession through their excellent set pieces and breakdown work. David Pocock hardly got a look in.

Brad Thorn was celebrating with 71 minutes on the clock. The reason - yet another damaging All Blacks scrum which earned a penalty kicked by Piri Weepu and pushed the score to a safe 20-6 margin.

As for the start, it couldn't have been much better for the All Blacks - Quade Cooper kicking out on the full in the first act of the game.

From there the All Blacks entered Australia territory and didn't leave it for 13 minutes. The only time the Wallabies enjoyed a change of scenery was when they re-started after Ma'a Nonu's opening try and Weepu's penalty.

The Wallabies showed some dangerous signs when they did enter enemy territory - scoring twice through a James O'Connor penalty and Cooper drop goal.

But the All Blacks would have been bouyed by the opening exchanges.

A dominant scrum let Weepu kick to the corner and from there O'Connor got himself into trouble behind his try line. It was this relentless pressure which allowed the All Blacks to strike the first blow.


And it was Nonu who continued his remarkable try-scoring form against the Aussies when he opened the All Blacks account after six minutes. He showed good instincts to follow up an excellent Israel Dagg outside break and in-pass to crash over for an important psychological blow.

Dagg's ability to drift outside his marker was incredible and he showed no sign of the haematoma which kept him out of last weekend's quarter-final victory over Argentina.

Nonu's five-pointer meant he has scored in the past four matches against the Wallabies.

While there was no doubt about the superiority of the All Blacks' scrum over the Wallabies, the lineout was functioning extremely well too. A Thorn steal in a Wallabies defensive lineout lead to a McCaw run and penalty which Weepu missed when hitting an upright.

He was successful with his next attempt, which, worryingly for the Wallabies, was against Pocock at the breakdown.

The All Blacks had to scramble to stop a break by Digby Ioane, who went close and it was a timely reminder that they weren't going to have things their own way.

Dagg was outstanding on attack and he and Cory Jane seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing what each other was thinking - honed by a few nights out together perhaps.

Jane was brilliant under the high ball and the All Blacks were beginning to succeed in creating mis-matches against tight forwards.

Aaron Cruden, under so much pressure going into the game as the All Blacks' third-choice first-five, was steady and had the presence of mind to drop kick a goal to push the score out to 11-3.

Cooper meanwhile was being hammered by Richard Kahui, dropping high kicks and clearing into touch on the full.

He did well to drop kick a goal before the All Blacks got three points back through a Weepu penalty after Adam Ashley-Cooper was unlucky to catch a rebound off an Australian forward.

Importantly for the All Blacks, they scored first halftime which put the score out to 17-6.

With 23 minutes to go, Weepu was replaced by Andy Ellis at halfback and Sam Whitelock by Ali Williams.

Dagg missed with a drop goal after sustained pressure but the Aussies were only just hanging on. A scrum penalty for the All Blacks gave Cruden an opportunity from 49m out but he was just astray.

Weepu came and went as a blood replacement for Ellis and had time to kick a penalty. The thrills continued. Sonny Bill Williams, on for Nonu, was yellow carded with five minutes left for a shoulder charge and the All Blacks held on.

Chokers indeed.

NEW ZEALAND 20 (Ma'a Nonu try Piri Weepu 4 pens Aaron Cruden drop goal) bt AUSTRALIA 6 (James O'Connor pen Quade Cooper drop goal)