All Blacks World Champions Again

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Lynn McConnell     01 Nov 2015     Getty Images

Four years of absolute All Blacks dominance of world rugby was capped with the retention of the Rugby World Cup in a captivating 34-17 win over Australia at Twickenham on Sunday NZ time.

They scored three tries to two and overcame a loss of momentum midway through the second half to become the first side to win the Webb Ellis Trophy three times.

All the preparation, and exposure of players, during coach Steve Hansen's reign was brought to bear on an Australian team which had only 12 months in which to organise themselves from the rabble they had become.

The Australians tried hard but the expertise developed by New Zealand paid reward with replacement back Beauden Barrett scoring the try which put it beyond all doubt with a length of the field run.

Australia had come back in the second half with two tries to get within four points, but a dropped goal by Dan Carter, the man of the match and player of a lifetime, with 11 minutes remaining gave New Zealand the space to push on. He landed a 49m penalty goal to push beyond the seven-point mark and finished with a right-footed conversion of Barrett's try for 19 points.

Then a turnover as Australia threw everything at them saw fullback Ben Smith, who had moved to the wing, kick the ball to wide open spaces and that allowed Barrett to apply the after-burners to out-pace the defence, see the ball sit up after he toed it ahead, and he was over for the try.

It was a fitting finale for Carter, but around the field throughout the game captain Richie McCaw met the expected challenge from Australia at the breakdown in his usual manner by unleashing an outstanding display of leadership to cap his career.

Up 16-3 at the half-time break, New Zealand replaced centre Conrad Smith with Sonny Bill Williams who made an immediate impact. After New Zealand turned over early Australian ball, Williams made ground and produced a superb off-load for Nehe Milner-Skudder. Then from the ruck Williams provided more ball, and second five-eighths Ma'a Nonu found the slightest gap and headed off on an angled run, stepped replacement Kurtley Beale and then set sail for the goal-line to score in wing Drew Mitchell's tackle and put the fullstop on his own brilliant career.

Two runs by Mitchell and Beale gave Australia attacking impetus for the first time in the game. In attempting to hold Australia out, fullback Ben Smith was ruled to have lifted Mitchell beyond the horizontal and was sin-binned. From the penalty it was No.8 David Pocock who was over on the back of a maul.

New Zealand failed to cover ball after Williams made a sideline break into the Wallabies 22m area and two kicks, one long and a short one into the box by halfback Will Genia made good use of Smith's absence and the ball was secured on the bounce by first five-eighths Bernard Foley with centre Tevita Kuridrani going in.

But Carter steadied the ship, New Zealand regained their composure and the pressure was applied to the Australians whose mistakes ensured the All Blacks finished the stronger.

New Zealand attacked at every chance throughout the first half, and while there were errors in that approach, they were undaunted and as the minutes ticked down the gaps began to appear.

The chance came after 38 minutes when a fine lineout drive by flanker Jerome Kaino set in motion a flowing movement which featured strong runs from lock Brodie Retallick and hooker Dane Coles. But at the crunch end the class of the All Blacks was seen as halfback Aaron Smith doubled around centre Conrad Smith, who moved infield, and then found McCaw. He drew the defence perfectly and provided wing Nehe Milner-Skudder with enough space to get over unchallenged in the corner.

It was a tough opening quarter with bodies lying everywhere, fortunately for New Zealand the attrition rate was nil with No.8 Kieran Read needing to have an ankle taped after landing badly from an early lineout take. Australian prop Sekope Kepu made two marginal tackles, was penalised for both, the second of which winded Carter.

Australia lost lock Kane Douglas after 14 minutes when he fell badly after securing a New Zealand re-start. Then later in the half second five-eighths Matt Giteau was concussed when attempting a tackle on Brodie Retallick.

But powerful from the outset, New Zealand marked the severity of the occasion with some emphatic first-up tackles with flanker Jerome Kaino and Nonu making some impressive statements.

Mistakes were more noticeable from Australia who were reeling at stages. Halfback Will Genia made two key mistakes, getting off-side at a ruck which Carter scored from, and in having a ruck clearance charged down.

New Zealand brought wing Julian Savea into play as often as possible with some strong running off short passes.

Scorers: New Zealand 34 (Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ma'a Nonu, Beauden Barrett tries; Dan Carter 2 con, 4 pen, dropped goal) Australia 17 (David Pocock, Tevita Kuridrani tries; Bernard Foley 2 con, pen). HT: 16-3