The ghosts of World Cups past are now buried somewhere at Twickenham. That was arguably the best Rugby World Cup final with its thrust and counter-thrust.
The All Blacks put in close to the perfect performance in such a high pressure match. For the first half they would not let the Wallabies, who were having some injury disruptions, into the match. And once they put aside the curious fascination with kicking the ball away on attack, the waves kept on coming.
When they choose to keep ball in hand points were inevitable. The try to Milner-Skudder on the stroke of half time was cleverly and patiently worked. Remember that only Manawatu rugby aficionados had heard of Milner-Skudder a year ago. And once Nonu scored his extraordinary try it was 21-3 and you felt that was that.
But the scriptwriters had other ideas. Helped in part by Ben from Accounts’ sin binning the Wallabies came storming back with a couple of converted tries in quick succession. Suddenly it was 21-17, and old anxieties returned.
But the experience and the self-confidence kicked in. There was no panicky change of game plan, just a reversion to what had worked over the last four years. A World Cup victory demonstrably more convincing than that of 2011.
In the end it was the old hands who stood up, and put the exclamation mark at the end of their careers.
McCaw will not get the headlines, but he almost single-handedly nullified Australia’s greatest threat. Kaino was the enforcer, but the skipper won the turnovers.
Nonu capped off an outstanding season and an outstanding career with an individual try that you are not meant to see in a Rugby World Cup final.
And then there was Dan Carter. Rolling it back to 2005 on the biggest stage. Rugby World cups and Dan Carter have not had the happiest of relationships but this was emphatic, and just so composed. After the Wallabies stormed back he calmly slotted a drop-goal which, psychologically, was worth a lot more than three points.
Wouldn’t it be good if a legacy of this final was putting an end to New Zealand crowds booing the drop goal? We live in hope.