It was a battle for history as both Australia and New Zealand strove to become the first countries to become 3-time Rugby World Cup champions. In the end, it was defending champions New Zealand who emerged victorious 34-17, becoming the first to three victories and also becoming the first champions to retain the trophy. It also marked a memorable triumph for the All Blacks who won the RWC for the first time on away soil.
The battle at Twickenham, billed to be one of the best RWC finals of all time, looked to be delivering in the initial moments of the first half. Dan Carter proved to be the star of the show with three penalties in the first half and a key drop-goal in the second. The three penalties plus Nehe-Milner Skudder’s try at the end of the first half pressed home New Zealand’s advantage as they finished the half with a 16-3 lead.
And the beginning of the second half could not have been any worse for the Wallabies as Bernard Foley’s ill-placed kick suddenly put them on the back foot and All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu went on a mazy run, beating Aussie defenders, to give the champions a huge 21-3 lead after Carter couldn’t quite make the conversion.
Australia try to make comeback, denied by New Zealand
The pivotal moment of the game came minutes later when New Zealand full-back Ben Smith was sin-binned for lifting Australia’s Drew Mitchell off his feet. Australia seized on the moment and took advantage of the situation to mount their comeback. And what a comeback it was.
David Pocock got Australia back in the game immediately from the ensuing line-out and with just a minute left for Smith to return, Australia scored again through Tevita Kuridrani to make a wonderful comeback and get the game back on as they returned from 21-3 down to 21-17.
But with Smith back, New Zealand used their experience to make sure they didn’t give it away as Carter, who missed the 2011 final through injury, scored a drop-goal to push the advantage back to seven points. Carter kicked another penalty to stretch the lead to 10.
With two minutes to go and Australia committing everything to scoring a try, New Zealand’s defence paved the way for a try on the counter to finish things off as Beauden Barrett put the cherry on the victory. Carter was also named man-of-the-match.
The victory marks a fitting send off to many All Black veterans as close to seven members from the first team including captain Richie McCaw, Carter, Keven Mealamu, Conrad Smith and Nonu are likely to ride into the sunset.Published 31 Oct 2015, 23:53 IST