- Publish Date
- Sunday, 1 November 2015, 7:06AM
All Blacks 34 Australia 17
Pandemonium at Twickenham. The All Blacks have become the first nation to defend their World Cup title by beating Australia in another tense and agonisingly close final.
They did it not by running away with the game like they threatened to do just after halftime when Ma'a Nonu scored his stunning try from 40m out. No, they had to dig extremely deep in the end, just as they suspected they would, against a Wallabies team that refused to give up.
At 21-17 following Tevita Kuridrani's try, this game looked to be slipping slightly despite the almost unprecedented support from the 80,125 in attendance and the fact that almost everything was going in the All Blacks' favour in the first half.
In the end it was comfortable only due to Dan Carter's incredible last 10 minutes in an All Blacks jersey in which he dropped a goal to push the score to 24-17, and then kicked a penalty from halfway to give his side some proper breathing space.
Beauden Barrett's try from a kick by Ben Smith as the Wallabies chased the game was a piece of opportunism that sealed the match once and for and sent all of the black-clad supporters at this magnificent stadium into raptures.
At the final whistle, the All Blacks leapt for joy, skipper Richie McCaw deservedly mobbed by his teammates. What a test for the 34-year-old - his 148th - to bow out on.
The All Blacks had heroes across the park and they needed them as the Wallabies mounted their extraordinary comeback from 21-3 down.
They wanted to attack to win this match, to win their title back, but in the end they had to defend, and it was something to behold.
They were in a hole with Ben Smith controversially sinbined for a lifting tackle on Drew Mitchell. David Pocock's try from the subsequent rolling maul put the Aussies on a roll and momentum was shifting and that gained momentum when Kuridrani went over.
If Barrett's try was crucial - so were the efforts of his fellow bench play Sonny Bill Williams. On for Conrad Smith at halftime, he had two touches and made two offloads, the second sent Nonu away, the second-five - another veteran bowing out - stepping Kurtley Beale and pushing off Mitchell on way.
Willie Apiata has been with the All Blacks at this tournament, just as he was at the last one, and the "Who Dares, Wins" motto of his former SAS days could have been applied to the men in black.
The started as they meant to go on - with a relentless line-speed on attack and a determination to test the Wallabies in every way they could. The impacts in the early exchanges were brutal.
From the fury of the haka, with wing Julian Savea looking particularly fired up (with the help of Aussie coach Michael Cheika's notes indiscreetly shown on the eve of the test maybe?), the All Blacks kicked off and immediately smashed fullback Israel Folau and flanker Michael Hooper in short order. The battle lines were drawn.
They had all the ball and all the territory, and while their probes and sorties were shut down by the excellent Wallabies defence, the Australians, who had one less day to prepare for this showdown, had to pay for their efforts at some stage.
Carter and Bernard Foley swapped penalties, before the All Blacks No10 kicked another and then another - the third following a suspiciously forward pass from Nehe Milner-Skudder right in front of his country's former World Cup nemesis Wayne Barnes on the sideline.
And then, the first dagger blow, just before halftime. Commander and chief Richie McCaw got the ball in his hands in his own half twice in succession and then the All Blacks were on the attack, sweeping to the right where Conrad Smith, Aaron Smith and McCaw again combined to put Milner-Skudder over in the corner, a try superbly converted by Carter.
At 16-3 down at halftime, this was an almost impossible margin for the Wallabies to come back from.
They had lost second-five Matt Giteau to concussion from a Brodie Retallick charge, and lock Kane Douglas. But comeback they did and it just made the All Blacks' efforts in defending their title more noteworthy.
All Blacks 34 (Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ma'a Nonu, Beauden Barrett tries; Dan Carter 4 pens, con, dropped goal)
Australia 17 (David Pocock, Tevita Kuridrani tries; Bernard Foley pen, 2 cons)
Source- NZ Herald