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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 11:01 GMT
Australia shock New Zealand
Australia 22-10 New Zealand

MATCH SUMMARY
Stirling Mortlock is congratulated after scoring his try
Australia 22
Tries: Mortlock
Cons: Flatley
Pens: Flatley 5
New Zealand 10
Tries: Thorne
Cons: MacDonald
Pens: MacDonald

Reigning champions Australia marched into the Rugby World Cup final with a clinical demolition of tournament favourites New Zealand.

Under fire from the media after a string of below-par performances, the Wallabies dominated the Sydney clash from start to finish to set up a meeting with either England or France.

Stirling Mortlock set the ball rolling for the host nation with an intercept try after 10 minutes.

And the boot of Elton Flatley added another 17 points as the indisciplined All Blacks were sent spinning out of the competition at the semi-final stage for the second successive time.

Australia, beaten 50-21 the last time the two sides met in Sydney, started brilliantly, throwing the ball around with real confidence and putting New Zealand on the back foot from the first whistle.

But the All Blacks soaked up the early pressure and almost took the lead when Mils Muliaina went over in the right corner on eight minutes.

You have to make top teams work defensively - we stuck to our game plan and everyone believed in it
Australia captain
George Gregan
English referee Chris White was not convinced the full-back had got the ball down legally.

And, after consultation with the video official, Muliaina was ruled to have knocked the ball on as he went to touch down.

It proved a big let-off for the Wallabies, who made the most of their escape by scoring the opening try less than 60 seconds later.

Mortlock intercepted a long pass from Carlos Spencer and ran 75 metres to touch down under the posts.

Flatley landed the conversion to open up a 7-0 lead for the host nation.

Mils Muliaina is tackled by Australia's Lote Tuqiri
Muliaina fails to get the ball down under pressure from Lote Tuqiri
The gap became 10 points when Flatley landed a penalty after Nathan Shape was felled by a high tackle from Jerry Collins.

New Zealand had chances to reduce the deficit, Leon MacDonald missing two penalties.

And when Flatley made it 13-0 to Australia after some intense pressure had ended with New Zealand straying offside, the All Blacks were wobbling badly.

Just when it looked as though the Wallabies would enter the interval with a commanding lead, New Zealand skipper Reuben Thorne gave his side a lifeline with a bulldozing run to the line after Stephen Larkham had been robbed of possession.

MacDonald finally got off the mark with a simple conversion to make it 13-7 to Australia at half-time.

If the All Blacks thought the tide had turned with Thorne's late first-half score, they were quickly brought back down to earth.

We couldn't break out wide and we couldn't get through down the middle
All Blacks captain
Reuben Thorne
Collins was penalised for failing to allow David Giffin to play the ball, leaving Flatley with a straightforward penalty for another three points.

The game was held up for 10 minutes after Australia's Ben Darwin was injured.

But the loss of the prop, who was eventually stretchered off, failed to knock the Wallabies out of their stride.

Flatley made it five out of five kicks with his fourth penalty to put Australia 19-7 in front.

New Zealand lost a player of their own, scrum-half Justin Marshall leaving the field after suffering a rib injury.

But at least MacDonald was starting to enjoy some success with the boot.

He cut Australia's lead to nine points again with a penalty on 57 minutes.

But New Zealand's indiscipline kept getting them into trouble, another infringement allowing Flatley to kick his 18th point of the game on the hour mark.

From then, Australia's superb defence held the All Blacks at bay.

Flatley could even afford to miss with a 74th-minute penalty as the Wallabies wrapped up their 12th successive World Cup win.


New Zealand: M Muliaina; D Howlett, L MacDonald, A Mauger, J Rokocoko; C Spencer, J Marshall; D Hewett, K Mealamu, G Somerville; C Jack, A Williams; R Thorne (capt), R McCaw, J Collins.
Replacements: M Hammett, K Meeuws, B Thorn, M Holah, B Kelleher, D Carter, C Ralph.

Australia: M Rogers; W Sailor, S Mortlock, E Flatley, L Tuqiri; S Larkham, G Gregan (capt); B Young, B Cannon, B Darwin; J Harrison, N Sharpe, G Smith, P Waugh, D Lyons.
Replacements: J Paul, A Baxter, D Giffin, M Cockbain, C Whitaker, N Grey, J Roff.

Referee: Chris White (England).





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