Rugby World Cup 2015 final New Zealand v Australia preview: Five stats that could decide the All Blacks' showdown with the Wallabies

 
Joe Hall
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Rugby World Cup final All Blacks v Australia
The two best teams in the world meet in the Rugby World Cup final (Source: Getty)

It's been billed as the dream final: Antipodean neighbours New Zealand and Australia, the two best teams in the world, duking it out over 80 minutes for the Rugby World Cup.

It's the No1 ranked side in the world and reigning world champions up against this year's resurgent Rugby Championship winner for the chance to become the first nation ever to win three World Cups.

Can New Zealand's departing legends Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ma'a Nonu bow out with one final master class? Will Australia's fearsome back row - so dominant so far at this tournament - run riot once again?

It's a mouthwatering prospect - and nearly impossible to call. Here's five stats which could have some bearing on what is sure to be an epic encounter.

Read more: How much is a Rugby World Cup win worth to a player?

History is on New Zealand's side

Beating Australia is nothing new for the All Blacks. They've done it 105 times before, losing on 42 occasions and drawing seven times.

Even more encouragingly for Kiwis, their historical dominance in this fixture appears to be increasing over time with just five losses in the last 10 years. The Wallabies' 27-19 win in Sydney this August was their first win over the All Blacks since 2011.

The All Blacks have bags of experience

The match day 23 named by New Zealand coach Steve Hansen have a staggering 1339 caps between them. Hansen's starting XV has a collective 982 caps, an average of 65, and includes seven players who started in the All Blacks' victorious 2011 final: Tighthead prop Owen Franks, lock Sam Whitelock, back row forwards Jerome Kaino, McCaw and Kieran Read, and centres Nonu and Smith.

Such a wealth of experience has often helped the All Blacks survive the pressure of being behind and scrape through difficult games in which they haven't been at their best.

Read more: Steve Hansen hails Richie McCaw's leadership

For us in 2011 and for most teams who have won, they've had to dig deep. It's not about doing anything magical, it's about getting the basic things right."

- Steve Hansen

Will the "Pooper" turnover threat win the game for Australia?

Much has been made of Australia's loose forwards turnover threat at this World Cup after Michael Cheika made the decision to play two blindside flankers in Michael Hooper and David Pocock - or "Pooper" as they have been nicknamed - at No7 and No8.

The latter is an unstoppable machine at the breakdown with 14 turnovers won - five more than any other players - from just four matches.

As a trio the Pocock-Hooper-Scott Fardy trio that will line up this Saturday has won 21 turnovers at the tournament but New Zealand's McCaw-Read-Kaino trio aren't far behind on 18. What's more, as a team the All Blacks actually have the edge at the breakdown with 45 turnovers to the Wallabies' 42.

And even more impressive is the fact that those turnovers have come from just 551 tackles while Australia's have come from 726.

Can the Wallabies rely on their scrambling defence?

Read more: Australia coach labels Wallabies underdogs in final

The Wallabies missed 33 tackles in their semi-final win over Argentina. The All Blacks missed just three against South Africa.

Australia's scrambling defence often recovered just in time to prevent the Pumas scoring a try in that game - although they were also let off by some poor execution when the try line beckoned. Surely the pace, power and finishing prowess of All Blacks like Nehe Milner-Skudder and Julian Savea will not let them off so lightly.

Who will be the perfect 10?

We don't want to be proud just to make the final - that's too easy. We want to be proud of what we do on Saturday."

- Michael Cheika

Both fly-halves Dan Carter and Bernard Foley have been instrumental in their team's progressions to the final and are the fifth and fourth-highest points scorers respectively at the tournament so far.

Yet neither have been faultless from the tee. Both have missed seven place kicks each - Carter out of 34 attempts and Foley from 32. Whoever edges ahead and asserts authority with the boot could go a long way in determining the outcome of what is sure to be a tight game tomorrow.

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