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Captain McCaw dispels the doubts
Sean Martin
21:21 AEST Sun Oct 16 2011

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw shrugged off doubts about his fitness to produce a standout display as the Rugby World Cup hosts overpowered Australia 20-6 to reach the Rugby World Cup final.

In pics - All Blacks dominate Wallabies
Match stats - All Blacks v Wallabies

In the white-hot atmosphere that lit up Eden Park, McCaw kept his emotions in check to guide his side to their first tournament final since 1995.

McCaw hardly trained during the week as he nursed a troublesome foot injury and there were questions about his fitness, and his form, leading into the match.

But the 30-year-old put the doubts behind him to have a big bearing on the the outcome of the match.

It was not, however, at the breakdowns that he excelled, the area that has been his preserve since he made his Test debut in 2001, but around the park as a willing tackler and as an effective ball carrier.

"It's awesome," McCaw said. "We realised that we were going to have to front up and we had to do the job for 80 minutes.

"The intensity was there and every single man did their bit tonight. We've got next week to look forward to."

One memorable second-half tackle drove Will Genia back 10m before he stole the ball from the Wallabies halfback.

Against the 23-year-old David Pocock, the man many feel has surpassed McCaw as the world's premier No.7, the veteran gave as good as he got.

Pocock was penalised twice in the opening salvos by referee Craig Joubert and he was unable to influence the match as he had done so to such an effect against the Springboks last week.

McCaw's ongoing rivalry with Quade Cooper failed to materialise with the Tokoroa-born first five-eighth, who was booed by the sellout crowd every time he touched the ball, having a match to forget.

His kick to start the match sailed out of touch on the full, he dropped a bomb and had numerous other mistakes in an error-strewn performance.

McCaw, who captained the side that exited the 2007 tournament after a shock quarter-final loss to France, now has the chance for the ultimate redemption against the same opponents next Sunday.

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Special feature: All the colour from New Zealand
Photos: All Blacks world championsNew Zealand have fought off a brave French team to win the Rugby World Cup again after 24 long years.

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