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France and New Zealand to Contest World Cup Final
Wales and Australia left heartbroken
Posted Oct 17, 2011 by Chris White
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For two sides, the World Cup dream is over, but for two others, the dream is almost a reality with the 2011 World Cup finalists now confirmed. Hosts New Zealand and France will walk out at Eden Park on Sunday 23rd October in a final attempt to get their hands on the Webb Ellis Trophy.
The French edged a controversial match against Wales 9-8 in the first semi, making the most of the man advantage they held for 61 minutes after Welsh captain Sam Warburton was controversially sent off for a tackle on Vincent Clerc, which referee Alain Rolland deemed to be dangerous.
Morgan Parra kicked three penalties for the French, who lead 6-3 at the interval, and despite their disadvantage, it was Wales who had the best chances to win the match. Scrum half Mike Phillips burst through the French defence to score the only try of the match with 23 minutes remaining, but Stephen Jones hit the post with the conversion, which would have put Wales in front.
Leigh Halfpenny then attempted a long-range penalty from almost the halfway line, but despite having the line spot on, the length wasn’t quite as accurate, with the kick dipping agonizingly below the cross bar as the Welsh crashed out in heart breaking fashion.
France coach Marc Lievremont must now prepare his side for a clash with the hosts and pre-tournament favourites New Zealand, after the All Blacks beat rivals Australia 20-6 in the second semi final.
The All Blacks took a step closer to ending their 24-year wait for World Cup glory as they overpowered the Wallabies, but a stunning display in the opening stages from New Zealand set the tone for the game. Ma’a Nonu scored an early try, but Piri Weepu missed the conversion. Weepu then missed a straightforward penalty, and while James O’Connor pulled back a penalty for the Australians, Weepu did put his next penalty between the posts to make it 8-3, then continued his mixed form on the day with another miss before the break.
Aaron Cruden came into the team as fly half and he nailed a long-range drop goal, before Quade Cooper scored one of his own, but when Adam Ashley-Cooper was caught offside, Weepu made it 14-6 to the home side at the interval.
Two penalties from Weepu after the break sealed the victory for New Zealand, and now only France stand in their way in their quest for glory. France will be difficult opponents, however, finding their form in the knockout stages and going in search of their first World Cup.