Wallabies praise ‘brilliant’ Blacks

Robbie Deans and James Horwill were emphatic in their view that Australia were beaten by a far superior side on the night.

The Blacks progressed to their first World Cup final since 1995 on the back of an inspired performance at Eden Park. They dominated every facet of play, making a prodigiously gifted Wallabies side look decidedly ordinary.

Coach Deans was clear in his assessment of the match, saying: ‘ In 15 Tests coaching against the All Blacks, that was probably the best I’ve seen them play. They were brilliant.’

The Wallabies’ only points came via two penalties, which spoke volumes about the role the Blacks’ defensive effort played in nullifying their opponents’ key players, particularly their dangerous outside backs.

This success was built on an immense gainline contest, which Deans pointed to as being the root of their struggles. ‘They defended really well. We were never able to get momentum, they were strong in contact and aggressive towards the ball on the ground and that made it really difficult for us.

‘We didn’t feel the game was out of reach at half-time [New Zealand led 14-6] but we needed more possession to be able to play. Also the All Blacks’ work in air was very good and we lacked there.’

Captain James Horwill applauded the effort exerted by his charges in search of the breakthrough that could have given them the lift they needed to chase victory late in the Test. ‘We never stopped giving, but they were clinical in what they did and we were beaten fair and square by a better side,’ Horwill said.

The Blacks are heavy favourites going into the final against France, whom they beat comprehensively in the pool phase. Talk of France’s capacity to defy the odds and produce a magical performance will dominate the media this week, but Deans believes his countrymen will emerge as victors.

‘The All Blacks showed tonight that they are hungry and more than capable of winning the final. The core of this side have had three cracks now and that showed in the way they played. Their commitment and intensity was outstanding.’

By Ryan Vrede, at Eden Park.