Rugby’s Andy Gomarsall says personal battle could decide final
They’ve met so many times before in the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe Cup but never in a World Cup final.
Australia went tit for tat with New Zealand when they met back in early August. The Wallabies pushed them all the way that day and won 27-19 to win the Rugby Championship.
They then went to Eden Park the following week for the second match of the Bledisloe Cup, made a few changes, and were blown away by New Zealand 41-13.
The All Blacks go into Saturday’s final as the favourites to retain the World Cup which that they won four years ago, and when you compare the two teams they have been the most consistent during the tournament.
Australia have had one less day of recovery after the semi-finals, so the question will be: can they survive another 80 minutes?
Out of all of the teams you could put up against New Zealand this weekend you would say Australia are one of the teams that can beat them, but how much will they have left in the tank?
The scrum is going to be key for Australia, and less so for New Zealand who have Sonny Bill Williams to come off the bench and unlock defences if needed.
The battle between New Zealand’s Richie McCaw and Australia’s Michael Hooper and David Pocock is going to be crucial, and could well be a decisive factor.
When the Wallabies triumphed in Sydney, Hooper and Pocock outplayed McCaw, and it was a case of youth outshining experience.
We’ve got two of the classiest teams in world rugby left fighting to be crowned champions, and strategy will be important for both of them.
Australia have got Bernard Foley at number 10 who has a nice kicking structure for the line restarts, which is kind of like an American football style restart when I look at it.
For New Zealand they’ve got Dan Carter at 10 and Aaron Smith at nine who are pretty amazing, while Julian Savea has scored eight tries so far.
They’re locked up all over the park, and although Australia’s scrum will give them a chance, I can’t see the All Blacks being beaten on Saturday.
I’ve been chosen to commentate for ITV’s world feed this weekend and it will be the first time I have done that for a final.
I was involved in two World Cup finals as a player, so I know how both sets of players will be feeling this week.
They will be trying to focus on their job and thinking about how they will personally impose themselves on the game. You don’t want to spend a lot of nervous energy before kick-off.