New Zealand booked their place in the final to face France after easily overcoming Australia 20-6 in their semi-final win at Eden Park.
The All Blacks, targeting their first World Cup triumph in 24 years, will face the French in a repeat of their inaugural 1987 World Cup final, also at Eden Park, which they won 29-9.
And New Zealand have already beaten France once at this World Cup, winning a pool match 37-17.
The Australians came off second best in the physical and tactical exchanges in the intimidating atmosphere of the All Blacks’ Eden Park fortress, where the Wallabies haven’t won since 1986.
The Tri-Nations champions were bloodied and beaten in every aspect by a ferocious New Zealand onslaught, that saw the hosts dominate from the opening kickoff and flustering the Wallabies into a multitude of errors.
Dynamic New Zealand ended a tense week of concerns over the fitness of captain Richie McCaw as they proved far too good for the Australians.
“It was awesome,” flanker McCaw said. “We realised we were going to have to front up and we had to be on the job for 80 minutes.
“Every single man did their best out there,” he added after New Zealand reached their first World Cup final since 1995.
For New Zealand coach Graham Henry the win was especially sweet after he survived calls to be sacked and replaced by Kiwi Robbie Deans, now in charge of Australia, following the All Blacks’ quarter-final defeat by France four years ago — their worst World Cup showing.
“They were fabulous, weren’t they?”, Henry said of his side. “They showed huge character. From minute to minute they gave 100 (percent), they gave everything, they were just outstanding.”
Henry, asked what was behind the victory, replied: “Four years of planning, I suppose. Four years of guys being frustrated and wanting to do the job, four years of trying to get things right.”
Australia captain James Horwill said his team had been outplayed in a match where they failed to score a try.
“It’s really disappointing. We probably needed to improve on a couple of areas but credit to the All Blacks, they deserved to win.”
The Wallabies now have to console themselves with a bronze final with Wales on Friday — a repeat of the 1987 third place playoff.
Australia’s scattergun playmaker Quade Cooper endured another shaky night and he as guilty of taking several wrong options, much to the roaring approval of the 60,000 capacity crowd.
It all went horribly wrong from a kickoff Cooper sent sailing over the sideline to put the Wallabies under immediate pressure as the All Blacks ripped in.
New Zealand had all the ball in the opening six minutes before Israel Dagg sliced past Anthony Fainga’a and Rocky Elsom to send Ma’a Nonu storming over for the only try of the game.
Wallaby flanker David Pocock was penalised for two ruck infringements in as many minutes, with scrum-half Piri Weepu kicking the All Blacks eight points ahead.
But Australia, who saw star full-back Kurtley Beale ruled out Saturday with a hamstring injury, gradually clawed their way back and wing Digby Ioane was held up near the try-line before McCaw conceded a penalty kicked by James O’Connor.
Novice New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden — only playing after groin injuries ruled both Dan Carter and Colin Slade out of the World Cup — settled his nerves with a 22nd minute drop-goal to extend the All Blacks’ lead to 11-3.
Cooper tried to get back on track with a calmly-taken drop goal to have the Australians trailing 11-6 after 32 minutes.
But Adam Ashley-Cooper was caught in an offside position from an All Black high kick, giving Weepu the chance to kick the penalty for a 14-6 half-time lead.
Australia again began the restart poorly and McCabe was penalised for not releasing, giving Weepu an easy penalty for a 17-6 lead before the number nine sealed victory with his fourth penalty eight minutes from time.