Living the Rugby World Cup 2015
A dream final between Australia and New Zealand
It is hard to image a more mouth-watering final for the Rugby World Cup than this clash between the reigning champions, New Zealand, and the last winners of the Rugby Championship, Australia. The stage is set for a titanic battle between these two southern hemisphere giants on Saturday 31 October at Twickenham, where the winners will be the first triple world champions in history.
Impressive throughout the tournament and winners of the "group of death" ahead of Wales and England, the Australians were given a real scare in the quarter-finals by the lively Scots. After qualifying by the narrowest of margins thanks to a penalty kicked by Bernard Fowley in the last minute (35-34), Michael Cheika's men rediscovered their cast-iron defence in the semi-final against Argentina, as earlier against Wales, not to mention the kind of attacking verve which helped knock out the English.
For their part, the All Blacks seem unstoppable as they advance down the road to retaining their title. Led by the momentous Julian Savea, already scorer of eight tries in this tournament, it is hard to find flaws in their game and the Kiwis have looked to be a notch above their opponents throughout the competition. Although Argentina gave the world champions a run for their money for an hour in the group stage and the Springboks only went down after a fierce battle, an All Blacks victory has seemed inevitable every time.
Historically, matches between Australia and New Zealand have often turned in the Kiwis' favour. Only the world champion Australian teams (1991 and 1999) have managed to consistently defeat their neighbours at the beginning and end of the 1990s. This time, the Wallabies will be counting on Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper, 25 Rugby World Cup tries between them, to counter Julian Savea, in particular. The Kiwi wing may have only racked up eight world cup tries...but they have all come in this year's tournament!
The All Blacks have only lost once during the last twelve clashes between the two teams! But it has been all square in the last two Rugby Championships (one win, one draw and one defeat each). Australia will be aiming to bar the way to an historic retention of the world champion title for the team sporting the silver fern.
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