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The Kiwi legends deliver, Wallaby woe and more RWC talking points

Dan Carter’s performance was the peak of his brilliant All Blacks career.

Murray Kinsella reports from Twickenham

NEW ZEALAND SECURED the World Cup crown for the second time in a row with a 34-17 victory over Australia in Twickenham. Read our match report here.

Carter signs off in style

Dan Carter was asked yesterday if this World Cup final would define his career. ‘No’ was the answer, with his head coach Steve Hansen also stepping in to underline that Carter’s career would be remembered as one of greatness no matter what occurred in this final.

Dan Carter kicks their first points through a penalty Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After that man-of-the-match display, it would be hard to argue that the legendary out-half won’t be remembered for this peak. A World Cup final winner finally, Carter has dreamed of this moment since missing out in 2011 with a groin injury.

Everything he has done in the past four years has been built towards this point, no matter what he said yesterday. 2005 against the Lions was unforgettable, but World Cups have the greatest currency in New Zealand. This was the out-half’s moment.

Carter has his crowning glory as he heads off to France to join Racing 92. A player who has managed to be universally loved throughout his career, no one will begrudge Carter this success.

The greats lead the victory

Richie McCaw was asked again immediately after the final whistle: is this the end for the 148-cap back row? Again, the gnarled leader declined to give any clarity. He just wants to enjoy this success and he deserves that much.

The All Blacks perform the Haka Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The openside hammered his body again for 79 minutes before giving way to Sam Cane, the heir to his throne. Having captained his country to two consecutive World Cup trophies, McCaw could retire knowing he has been the greatest captain of them all.

Ma’a Nonu heads to join the galacticos at Toulon having shown that he remains a supreme athlete at the age of 33. He brings with him more than a century of All Blacks caps and his final performance was also hugely fitting.

Alongside him in the centre in the opening 40 minutes was the classy Conrad Smith, as important as anyone in this victory. His handling skills are the finest on the planet and Pau are getting a centre whose intelligence is unparalleled.

Replacement hooker Keven Mealamu is another man set to check out of the Test arena, but all of New Zealand’s veterans deserve the major tributes coming their way.

A triumph for skills

The Wallabies aren’t too shabby when it comes to passing, catching and carrying, but no one can live with the All Blacks when they are at their best. Nearly all of the key moments in the game came from the sublime skills of Steve Hansen’s side.

Sonny Bill Williams tackled by Michael Hooper, Will Genia and Israel Folau as he offloads to Ma'a Nonu who runs in for a try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

From the catch and pass of the likes of Conrad Smith, to the bullet passing of brilliant scrum-half Aaron Smith, the footwork of Nehe Milner-Skudder, the offloading of SBW, and the intelligence of McCaw and his fellow forwards in being able to pick out a pass, the Kiwis make a simple game of it.

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Much of the time, there’s no need for them to call moves or run complicated plays off their playmakers. They simply catch the ball, actually see what is happening in front of them in the defence, use their footwork to beat or fix defenders, make a good decision and then pass the ball to space.

Their skill level is on another level to everyone else in the world and that’s the major reasons they are champions again.

Wallabies woe

The Wallabies did supremely well to be in the game at all heading into the final quarter, particularly after they were dominated territorially and possession-wise in the first half and then gave up a 21-3 lead early in the second.

Michael Cheika before the match Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ben Smith’s yellow card provided an opening and Michael Chieka’s men didn’t need to be asked twice. The tries for David Pocock and Tevita Kuridrani were just reward for the Wallabies’ ability to stretch the Kiwis, but New Zealand always had another gear.

It’s been a remarkable journey for Chieka in his year in charge, and getting to this final is a huge achievement. That’s little consolation for the former Leinster coach and his players right now, but they have put in place exceptionally strong foundations for the future.

The loss of Matt Giteau and Kane Douglas in the first half was a blow this evening, but even those departures cannot be pointed to as the key to defeat. Sometimes it’s as simple as being beaten by a better team. 

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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