THE Rugby World Cup final has arrived with old rivals New Zealand taking on Australia at Twickenham. Rugby expert Russ Petty @RPetty80 takes a look at the betting.
New Zealand v Australia | Saturday 16.00 | ITV1
The 2015 Rugby World Cup final will be contested by the teams ranked first and second going into the tournament. New Zealand won the 2011 trophy on home soil and have been the top side in the following four years – winning 48 of their 53 matches by an average score of 33-16.
It has been a different route for Australia. They had won just 22 of their 44 games by the end of 2014 and had a new coach in Michael Cheika, after the resignation of Ewen McKenzie. To go from the low ebb of a loss in Mendoza last October to winning 10 of 11 matches this year is an impressive turnaround.
New Zealand have built squad depth since the last World Cup but still go into this match with the same experienced centre and back row combinations that started the 2011 Final. The locks are starting their 29th match together and Aaron Smith, Dan Carter will begin their 20th game as half-backs.
In contrast, the Wallabies front row made their first start together just three matches before this competition began and the same can be said of the heralded back row trio of Scott Fardy, Michael Hooper and David Pocock. When the locks lined up against USA in the final warm up match is was just their third start together and the pairing of Will Genia and Bernard Foley began their first match against Fiji at the start of the World Cup.
Cheika’s coaching team of Stephen Larkham, Nathan Grey and Mario Ledesma all have experience of winning World Cup games and with them in charge, the Wallabies are now a united squad, with a tough attitude and direction. That is evident in the way they came back with two late tries to beat South Africa this year, avenging the Mendoza defeat with a 34-9 win, the scrum performance and record win against England at Twickenham and the defensive effort when down two men against Wales.
The All Blacks addressed problems relating to on field leadership and decision making under pressure after the 2007 World Cup and now have the reputation of being a composed, ruthless side – especially late on.
Unlike last week’s opponents South Africa though, Australia have shown themselves capable of scoring late points against New Zealand. Since 2013 in this fixture, the Wallabies average a score of 8-7 in the final 20 minutes against them and have scored the final try in five of the last eight meetings. This year Australia have also scored a try in the final ten minutes in eight of 11 games and stopped opponents scoring any points in the final quarter on seven occasions.
Scotland were the only team to score more than three points against Australia in the opening quarter this year and they average six points conceded against New Zealand in the first 20 minutes of games going back to 2013. The All Blacks have scored an average of five points in the first quarter against Tier 1 teams in 2015.
While the Wallabies have been competitive at the start and end of recent games against their rival, the same hasn’t always been true in the middle of matches, particularly away. In the last three matches in New Zealand, they have been outscored by a total of 90 points to 23, between the 21st -60th minute.
Cheika said ‘if you look backwards, you’re only going to get a sore neck’ in his final press conference and won’t be worried about Australia’s record of one win in 12 matches with New Zealand. In the same way, he would have ignored the Waratahs run of 11 straight defeats against the Crusaders before the 2014 Super Rugby final.
He probably wouldn’t have much time for trends, like the team having an extra day to prepare losing five of the previous seven finals, or the higher ranked team (pre-tournament) winning 11 of the last 13 knockout games, either.
Having already beaten New Zealand a few months ago with a team featuring 12 of this starting line-up, Australia should be confident going into this game. They have come through a tougher group though and that catching up with them, along with their goal kicking accuracy dropping to 57% and 66% in the knockout matches and the attacking threats on New Zealand’s bench could be the difference.
It is 13/8 for the All Blacks to win by 1-12 points with SkyBet.
New Zealand v Australia – New Zealand to win by 1-12 points (13/8 SkyBet)