New Zealand are World Champions again. The All Blacks made history this evening by becoming the first team to retain the Webb Ellis Cup and are the first team to win the trophy on three occasions. Captain Richie McCaw, alongside fellow retiring internationals Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodock, saw their final game in the famous All Black jersey finish in the perfect way, holding aloft the World Cup into the Twickenham night sky.
New Zealand See off Australian Fight Back to Retain World Cup
New Zealand dominated the opening half of play and turned that dominance on the field into points, going in at the half 16-3 up. There were some huge hits in the first half, Dan Carter taking a few moments to get up after he was hit a fraction late by Sekope Kepu. The All Blacks kept their discipline in their own half limiting Bernard Foley to just the one shot at goal in the first half. Dan Carter was steady with the boot punishing Australia for any indiscretions. The All Blacks ended the half in the perfect way with a try from Nehe Milner-Skudder.
New Zealand came out of the blocks in the second half raring to go and Ma’a Nonu powered over just after the restart to put the All Blacks firmly in control. Australia needed a lifeline and Ben Smith kindly provided one, creating his own piece of history by becoming the first player to be sent to the sin-bin in a World Cup final, for a tip tackle on Wallaby winger Drew Mitchell.
The next 10 minutes saw the best period of Australian pressure. David Pocock scored a try off a driving maul at the start of the sin bin period, and Tevita Kuridrani brought Australia within 5 points of New Zealand scoring as it expired. It was Dan Carter who steadied the ship scoring first a drop goal and then a penalty to give the All Blacks a 10 point cushion going into the final moments. As Australia pushed for a score at the end, Beauden Barrett broke away collecting his own kick to score under the posts and seal New Zealand’s victory.
It is perhaps fitting that it was on Halloween night that New Zealand lay to rest many of the ghosts of the past. Never having won the tournament outside of their own country, under performing at the big event when perennially favourites. However tonight they got the job done this generation have succeeded where others have fallen short. The fight back from Australia was spirited and they caused New Zealand to have a nervous few moments, but the experienced head of Carter calmed things down kept the scoreboard ticking over and the All Blacks in control.
Australia will be left wondering what could have been, there were points in the match where they competed with New Zealand and looked like they could have taken control of it. Pocock, Hooper and Fardy were excellent at the break down but it wasn’t enough, as they had dug themselves too big a hole. A 19 point deficit just after the half proved too big of a margin to overcome.
The All Blacks will celebrate now and deservedly so, sending off their heroes in perfect style, however soon thoughts will turn to Japan 2019 and a new set of All Black heroes will take to the field attempting to make it three Webb Ellis Trophies in a row.