New Zealand made Rugby World Cup history on Saturday as they became the first team to win a second successive tournament with a 34-17 win over Australia.
Tries by wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, centre Ma’a Nonu and substitute Beauden Barrett, coupled with fly-half Dan Carter’s 19 points from the tee in his 112th and final test match, guaranteed victory for the All Blacks.
The win means the All Blacks’ World Cup winning run record has been extended to 14 Tests, while the Webb Ellis Cup is now theirs for a historic third time.
But the otherwise dominant New Zealand team were given a second-half scare as Australia attempted a comeback with two converted tries from David Pocock and Tevita Kuridrani in what was no doubt a close-final.
The All Blacks, however, remained unfazed despite their lead being shrunk to four points with 15 minutes remaining, and Carter’s drop-goal and long-range penalty at what was a crucial moment allowed New Zealand to snatch back control.
New Zealand were the stronger side through the early exchanges, and it was therefore no surprise that Carter kicked the All Blacks into the lead with a penalty in the seventh minute.
Though All Blacks number eight Kieran Read appeared to need treatment for a foot problem, it was Australia who sustained the first actual injury when lock Kane Douglas went off for former Exeter captain Dean Mumm.
New Zealand continued to attack deep into Australian territory, but they met their match in the defensive rearguard of their southern hemisphere neighbours.
Foley had since equalized through an earlier penalty, but Carter regained the previous advantage with an angled effort from the tee, while Australia lost centre Matt Giteau to a head injury.
New Zealand dominated the closing stages of the first half with Carter collected a third penalty, while an off-load ball from skipper Richie McCaw found Milner-Skudder, who crossed to claim his sixth try of the tournament.
Carter booted the extras to give New Zealand a 16-3 halftime lead, as Australia exited the pitch having done more in defense than in attack.
Australia returned from the interval break determined to make a mark in the scoreboard, but their plans were immediately thrown out after Nonu lay chase to a loose ball and landed a try within two minutes of the restart.
Carter narrowly missed his conversion to give the Wallabies some breathing space, but when Ben Smith was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on wing Drew Mitchell, Australia sensed an opportunity to mount an immense fightback.
Pocock first landed a close range try from five yards that Foley converted, while barely ten minutes later, Kuridrani skipped through space to smash over the line and put the scores 21-17 after Foley’s second conversion.
But Carter’s brilliance ultimately shine through, as a well worked drop-goal added another three points to his tally, while the building momentum sent Barrett through the tiring Australian rearguard to take a try and seal victory at Twickenham.