Dan Carter and Richie McCaw (Getty)
London – Five decisive moments in New Zealand’s victory over Australia in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final.
Matt Giteau off
Australia struggled to keep out the All Black hordes from the first minute and David Pocock and Michael Hooper heroically kept the Wallabies in the game for the first 30 minutes. The Australians were poor in the lineout and New Zealand claimed three turnovers in the first 10 minutes alone. The loss of Kane Douglas and especially Matt Giteau – the lone survivor from the 2003 defeat to England – in the 25th minute with injuries were critical blows.
Nehe Milner-Skudder try
Dan Carter kicked perfectly as the All Blacks slowly broke down Australian resistance. After three superb Carter penalties had built up a 9-3 lead, Nehe Milner-Skudder scored a decisive try virtually on the stroke of half-time. Ben Smith passed inside to Aaron Smith who had seen Milner-Skudder overlapping on the right. The wing dived into the corner to give the All Blacks a 16-3 midway lead. No team has ever come back from a half-time deficit to win the World Cup final. This was no different.
Enter Sonny Bill Williams
Taking advantage of Giteau’s absence, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen sent on Sonny Bill Williams for the second period. Within two minutes he carried out a brilliant offload to set Ma’a Nonu free for a 40 metre run and one of the tries of the tournament.
Ben Smith sin-bin
A moment of defensive madness nearly turned the game. Ben Smith upended Wallaby wing Drew Mitchell just five minutes from the try line and became the first player to be sin-binned in a World Cup final. From the resulting penalty, David Pocock drove over for a try. That took the match to 21-10 and set up an adrenalin charged 10 minutes. With Smith still on the sidelines, Will Genia kicked over the top and Bernard Foley collected to set Tevita Kuridrani free for a powerful run and a second try which Foley converted to take it to 21-17.
Dan Carter class
Smith came back but it took Dan Carter to steady the All Black ship. With 10 minutes to go, Carter collected the ball barely inside the Australia half and kicked a drop goal that left the Wallabies needing a converted try to level. He followed it up with a titanic 51 metre penalty that put the result beyond doubt. Carter also converted Beauden Barrett’s late try.