by Roger Childs
The 2015 final
No excuses. We were well beaten by a better team on the day. The All Blacks are the best team in the world. —The thoughts of Wallaby captain, Stephen Moore
Proving their superiority
The All Blacks came into the World Cup as the top ranked team and remain so with their emphatic 34-17 win over the Wallabies in the final. Only a moment of stupidity by Ben Smith which cost him 10 minutes in the bin, saved the Australians from a humiliating annihilation.
Leading 21-3 early in the second half, after a superb individual try by Ma’a Nonu, the flood gated were about to open, but Smith’s absence allowed the Wallabies to score two converted tries. However normal service was resumed when the full back returned and the champions won their second consecutive World Cup with a flourish.
All Blacks on top from the start
As in the quarter final against France, the New Zealanders went on the offensive from the start and some big tackles and early breaks, notably from Nonu, had the Australians on the back foot. The All Blacks came close to scoring, but determined defence by the Wallabies kept them out.
Penalties were traded to take the score to 9-3 but finally, just before half time, a superb movement involving a double round from Conrad Smith and a well timed pass from inspirational skipper Richie McCaw saw Nehe Milner-Skudder score in the corner.
The All Blacks were much the better team in the first half and their set piece scrums and lineouts were first rate. They also lost nothing in the loose where the Australians were expected to have the edge.
Locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock were in great form in the tight and the lineouts, and Jerome Kaino stood out with his powerful tackling and strength in the rucks.
Carter and Nonu star in the backs
Dan Carter missed the 2011 final and was determined to make the most of this one. He set the backline going well, tackled effectively and got more distance with his line kicks compared with opposite number Bernard Foley.
But crucially his goal kicking was excellent: only one attempt missed and his first four from wide out were all dead straight. Then with the scores at 21-17, a long range drop goal gave the All Blacks a crucial 7 point buffer. His man of the match of award was well merited.
At second five Ma’a Nonu showed why he has no peer on the planet in this position. He always made ground with ball in hand and frequently broke early tackles. His tackling was deadly as usual and his passing was up to the usual high standard.
The icing on the cake was his try of the tournament just after half time.
All Black magic
You will never, ever, ever see a try like that in a World Cup final!! —Ecstatic commentator Justin Marshall
~ Sonny Bill Williams was engulfed by two tacklers 5 metres inside the Australians’ half
~ He managed to free his arms and off load to Ma’a Nonu behind the ruck that was forming
~ Nonu raced through a gap and outpaced Tevita Kuridrani
~ Kurtley Beale tried to tackle him but was wrong footed
~ Nonu then ran wide on the left hand side to score in the tackle of Drew Mitchell.
The Wallaby comeback
It now seemed that the All Blacks would run up away with the game, but Ben Smith foolishly lifted an opponent above the horizontal and denied his team the chance to build a huge score.
The Australians are too good a team not to take advantage of being one man up and two well taken tries by David Pocock and Kuridrani closed the a score to 21-17.
However, back to 15 men, the All Blacks pushed out the points gap with a superb Carter drop goal and a penalty. Then, with only a couple of minutes on the clock, Ben Smith redeemed himself with an excellent kick through, which the speedy Beauden Barrett towed ahead and gathered to score near the posts.
The All Blacks dominated the final and only when they were one man up did the Wallabies have the initiative.
The victory was a due reward for the New Zealanders skill, fitness, team work and individual brilliance.