New Zealand beat Australia to claim rugby World Cup
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Dan Carter kicked 19 points as New Zealand held their nerve to win the rugby World Cup for the third time. The All Blacks led 21-3 before Australia closed to 21-17. Carter, playing in his final game before international retirement, powered over a drop goal and a penalty to give his side breathing space.
With 112 caps, Carter’s place in the All Blacks pantheon was already assured.
But tales will be long told about how the lad from Canterbury ran the show in the 2015 World Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday night to ensure New Zealand claimed the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time and became the first team to retain the trophy.
The record books will display a 34-17 score line yet for a good 20 mintues of the second half, a New Zealand victory was looking far from assured.
They were leading 21-3 early in the second half. But Australia fought back to 21-17 thanks to tries from David Pocock and Tevita Kuridrani.
It was then that Carter made his mark sending over a drop goal from 35 metres to make it 24-17 with 11 minutes to go.
Five minutes later he kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 27-17.
His final act was to convert Beauden Barrett’s try. Those two points took his tally up to 19 points.
Carter, 33, can now spread his star dust over Paris-based Racing 92 in France’s Top 14 after retiring from the All Blacks content in the knowledge that he will be deemed one of rugby union's greatest fly-halves. "We try to do things no other team has done before," said Carter whose Saturday night masterclass took him to a record 1,598 international points. "It's a special feeling to be part of such a great team."
Fellow veteran Richie McCaw, who raised the trophy in front of 80,125 people, said he would delay his decision on international retirement until he returns home.
As the first man to skipper a side to successive World Cup wins, he hailed his team mates. "We played some damned good rugby. We lost a bit of momentum in the second half but we kept our composure,” said the 34-year-old forward who was playing in his 148th international. “We came home strong which has been the mark of this team for the past four years.”
Since claiming the World Cup crown in 2011, the All Blacks have lost three matches. One of those defeats was at the hands of Australia in August as the Wallabies clinched the southern hemisphere’s four nation tournament the Rugby Championship.
Australia coach Michael Cheika praised his side's character after they ate into New Zealand’s 18 point lead established courtesy of tries either side of half-time by Nehe Milner-Skudder and Ma'a Nonu.
"We could have easily gone home but the heart and the courage that has been built in this team meant we didn't want to do that," said the 48-year-old.
"I felt 35 minutes was enough time for us to claw our way back and change the momentum of the contest, which we did. "Then at 24-17, a converted try could have taken the game into extra-time.”
True. But that was before Carter had the final word.