Australia were out-kicked, out-muscled and out-ran by an outstanding New Zealand team as the host nation booked their first final since 1995 but, ominously, their second straight on home soil with a 20-6 victory at Eden Park. The All Blacks threw aside any pre-match pressure to produce the best performance of the World Cup of any team to date as Australia crumbled under the pressure of their least favourite stadium once more. The much-hyped battle of the halves did not disappoint; Aaron Cruden placated New Zealand fans with a number of composed touches that belied his tender years, while his opposite Quade Cooper produced a mixed bag under pressure to the delight of the home fans. However it was the suffocating defence produced by the home side that sent them into an exact replica of the 1987 final against a French side easily swept aside in pool play.
Cooper began the match in horrific style, sending the kickoff straight out to do his personal demons no favours early on. The All Blacks had no such problems, starting at lightning pace and putting Australia under immense pressure inside the opening five minutes. Australia had no answers to the ruthless speed of the host nation, with Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in particular terrorising the back-peddling defence with scything runs early on. A first try looked inevitable and came courtesy of a breathtaking run by Dagg; the young full-back splitting the Wallaby midfield wide open before bypassing the desperate cover of James O’Conner with a magical pass to Ma’a Nonu with just six minutes on the clock. The somewhat wayward Piri Weepu then traded penalties with O’Conner to take the score to 8-3, but New Zealand was totally dominant at the breakdown and frighteningly efficient at the set piece as Australia just remained in touch with the frantic pace of the game inside the first half hour. Cruden and Cooper then converted clinical field goals as the game settled; a further Weepu penalty gave the host nation an eight point lead that, despite the narrow margin, might as well have been thirty for a shell-shocked Australian team that spent over two thirds of the half pinned in their own territory.
Australia initially looked more composed in the second half and, bar an early Weepu penalty, enjoyed a rare spell of possession but could not escape the clutches of the men in black as New Zealand settled into the second half with a powerful display of smothering, offensive defence. The Wallabies were devoid of ideas and began to tire upon the hour as the All Blacks looked to finish the game off by increasingly showing their attacking hand; although Australia valiantly held waves of marauding attacks at bay, they could not compete at the breakdown and were pinned in their own half with the clock quickly running down. An utterly dominant scrum ten minutes from time earned New Zealand yet another penalty for Weepu to kick his country 17 points clear, before a ludicrous shoulder charge by replacement Sonny Bill Williams gave the Wallabies a belated chance to rally against 14 men; but with only five minutes remaining, New Zealand never looked in danger of letting Australia past as they booked a rematch with the French in dominating style.