New Zealand clinch third World Cup with 34-17 triumph against Australia
LONDON, 31 Oct - New Zealand withstood a rousing Australian fightback to secure a 34-17 victory in the Rugby World Cup final and claim a historic third Webb Ellis Cup.
A magical individual try from centre Ma’a Nonu (above) and the composed boot of veteran fly-half Dan Carter helped steer the All Blacks to their second successive title.
Nonu scored one of the finest individual tries of RWC 2015 with a weaving run from 40 metres out at the start of the second half, as New Zealand ran in three tries in the most entertaining final in the 28-year history of the tournament.
Both players were playing their last game for New Zealand, as was Richie McCaw, who became the first All Blacks captain to lift the World Cup on foreign soil after their victories at home in 1987 and 2011.
Carter, who missed out of New Zealand's 2011 final triumph because of injury, kicked a total of 19 points while winger Nehe Milner-Skudder and replacement Beauden Barrett added the other tries for the All Blacks.
The Wallabies’ second-half comeback was fuelled by tries from number eight David Pocock and centre Tevita Kuridrani, while fly-half Bernard Foley put over seven points with the boot.
It was not enough to prevent the All Blacks from sealing a deserved victory that makes them the most successful team in World Cup history, ahead of Australia and South Africa who have both won the tournament twice.
Pressure pays off
New Zealand dominated territory and possession in the first half but the Wallaby defence, which had played a major role in their progression to the final, withstood the pressure well, restricting the All Blacks to a 9-3 lead courtesy of three Carter penalties.
But with 39 minutes on the clock, Steve Hansen's side got their reward when Milner-Skudder touched down after a superb move from 20 metres out. Centre Conrad Smith, also retiring from international rugby after the final, ran a perfect line and cleverly switched the ball with Aaron Smith. The scrum-half then timed his pass outside to McCaw who fed Milner-Skudder to score near the right-hand corner.
Sonny Bill Williams, who had been on the field for a matter of seconds as a half-time replacement for Conrad Smith, produced a slick overhead offload to Nonu just over the half-way line and the centre sprinted past a handful of Wallaby players to touch down to the left of the posts.
Wallabies bounce back
Leading 21-3, the All Blacks then faced a Wallaby comeback after losing full-back Ben Smith to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Australia wing Drew Mitchell 10 minutes into the second half.
Australia ran in two tries while Smith was off the field, the first coming after they produced one of their classic rolling mauls off the back of a lineout for number eight Pocock to score.
Kuridrani then crashed over near the posts after Foley gathered a kick from Will Genia down the right-hand touchline and passed inside to the centre to score.
But with 10 minutes to go, and the All Blacks’ slim 21-17 lead looking in danger, the 33-year-old Carter stepped up to slot home a crucial drop goal from the half-way line, before adding another three-pointer from the tee that effectively settled the contest.
With two minutes remaining, New Zealand got their third try after Smith broke away from his own 22 and put ahead a kick from the half-way line, which Barrett in turn kicked ahead and then gathered to score. It was a superb piece of individual control to cap a tournament the All Blacks have controlled collectively.