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The All Blacks advanced into their second consecutive RWC final, defeating archrival South Africa 20-18 in a wet and sodden trench warfare, slugfest. New Zealand trailed 12-7 at the half, having conceded four penalties to the sure boot of Handre Pollard, the talented Boks' fly half.
At the start, the All Blacks trailed 3-0, then led on a short try from Jerome Kaino off an up in the air toss from legend Richie McCaw. Conversion made it 7-3. Pollard added three more penalties to make it 12-7. Kaino would be flashed a yellow card at the 39th minute, forcing the All Blacks to play with 14 men for nine-minutes at the start of the second half.
The most exciting play of the day came off the foot of Dan Carter who kicked a drop goal at the 45-minute mark to narrow the score to 12-10. A second try, plus conversion put the All Blacks up 17-12. The sure-footed Pollard nabbed his fifth penalty goal to make it 17-15. Both sides added penalties, NZ first, and the game ended 20-18.
New Zealand, which has only lost three times in the past 53 games, will defend its 2011 RWC title next Saturday, October 31, at Twickenham (Broadcast free on NBC at noon ET).
Second Semi-Final: Australia versus Argentina Sunday, October 25 at Twickenham (Broadcast free on Universal Sports at 11:30 a.m. ET).
Congratulations to the All Blacks and their fans.