Henry praises dominant All Blacks
October 16, 2011
McCaw on the charge against the Wallabies © Getty Images
New Zealand head coach Graham Henry hailed his side after seeing them put together an "outstanding" performance to reach the World Cup final.
Ma'a Nonu scored the only try of the game, but Australia were never at the races as they faltered under the All Blacks' dominance up front and water-tight defence. Piri Weepu kicked four penalties and Aaron Cruden chipped in with a drop goal to complete a comprehensive victory over the Tri Nations champions.
The All Blacks are in their first final in 16 years and with a chance of World Cup redemption, having lost to the French in the knockout stages in both 1999 and 2007. Based on France's scratchy win against Wales and New Zealand's complete destruction of Australia, the result would appear a formality next Sunday.
But Henry warned his men that the job is not yet done. "I thought it was an outstanding performance, the boys were heroic out there," Henry said. "I am very proud of them. We need to build again for next week and do the same thing hopefully.
"We have got to come down from this game and it will take a couple of days. It is a huge game of rugby (next week). We have lot of history with France at World Cups. We respect them and it will be a big game next week."
New Zealand's World Cup history with the French dates back to 1987, when the All Blacks lifted the World Cup with victory at Eden Park in the inaugural final. But this is only New Zealand's second final since, and their first since the 1995 World Cup. The time has come to rid themselves of the chokers' tag.
"The guys' character was superb tonight. You can't ask for more than that. The defence was outstanding," Henry said. "It is a good feeling - better than last time! - but the job is not done. "It is important we understand that and we get our feet back on the ground over the next two days and build for this Test."
Australia coach Robbie Deans - a former All Black assistant coach - believes New Zealand displayed their title-winning pedigree with their demolition of the Wallabies.
"The All Blacks showed tonight they are more than capable of winning that (final)," said Deans. "The intent is there, they are an experienced group. For the nucleus of them it is their third attempt, they are well versed, they are hungry and they have a lot of support around them.
"They will take a lot of stopping from here. Good luck to New Zealand in the final. They have worked hard for this opportunity.
"They made it difficult all night for us to create any momentum."
Meanwhile All Blacks captain Richie McCaw called for a repeat performance against the French. "It was awesome, we realised had to front up and be on the job for 80 minutes," McCaw said. "Every single man did their bit, and that's what you've got to do in knockout rugby.
"We've got the job to do next week, but I'm pleased with how the guys fronted up. The intensity of the ball-carriers and at the breakdown was the key."
New Zealand also dominated the scrum and McCaw continued: "One to five have been around a long time, that's been building and it was a pretty good performance tonight, but we need it next week."
The superstar flanker has been nursing a foot injury throughout the tournament, but said: "I'll rest up again and be good to go next week, I'm sure."
Wing Cory Jane was named man of the match after facing up to an aerial buffeting which left him bloodied after a blow to the nose. On the barrage of high kicks, he told ITV1: "It's my job to catch them, I'd have been in trouble if I'd dropped them.
"My beak took a bit of a battering, it was a hell of a Test match but it's good to get past the semi-final and look forward to a good week and the final."
Jane was joined by Israel Dagg - whose strong run created the only try for centre Ma'a Nonu - and Richard Kahui in a fine display from the All Blacks' back line, and said: "We talked about it during the week, we had to work well together and we managed to do that at times tonight. The boys can take confidence from what they've done tonight."
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