A strong rivalry has developed between the two sides since their first meeting 112 years ago, with New Zealand dominating the head to heads, recording 105 wins in their 154 official meetings. New Zealand are also the slight favourites ahead of Saturday, possibly due to their record in previous meetings. With the final taking place on a neutral ground Australia still have a good chance, their record on neutral soil is equal with two wins each.
This will be their fourth Rugby World Cup meeting, but their first in the final. Their first clash was in the semi-final of the 1991 Rugby World Cup and resulted in a 16 – 6 win for Australia, who went on to win the tournament. The next meeting was in 2003 semi-final and Australia were successful again, this time claiming a 22 – 10 victory. Most recently they played in the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final, and this time New Zealand recorded their first win against the Wallabies in a World Cup match. New Zealand went on to win the 2011 tournament, equalling Australia and South Africa as the only nations with two Rugby World Cup wins.
How Did they Get To the Final?
Both teams have been unbeaten in their six games leading up to the final, although some would argue New Zealand had the easier route. Australia managed to beat England and Wales in the group stage, as well as Scotland and South Africa on their way to the final. New Zealand who also topped the group, defeated France and Argentina in the knock out stage of the tournament.
New Zealand are the highest points scorers in the tournament so far with 256 points scored over their six games. Their average points scored is also better than Australia’s with 42.67 compared to 34.17. As shown in the infographic Australia have the highest scoring player out of the two sides in Bernard Foley, however New Zealand have the highest try scorer, with Julian Savea scoring eight so far. It is clear both teams have capable point scorers, and these players could make the difference at Twickenham on Saturday.
Defensively the teams are quite similar with eighty points conceded by New Zealand compared to eighty four by Australia in their last six games. New Zealand have been the more consistent defensively, as forty percent of the points conceded by Australia were against Scotland in their quarter final game. It is evident that both of these teams are accomplished in both attack and defence, and it will be interesting to see how they set themselves up tactically on the day of the final.
In our previous blog released before the tournament started, it was predicted that New Zealand were the overall favourites, with a 47.8% chance of winning the tournament. Australia were found to only have a 8.4% chance of winning the tournament, and remarkably it was England who were second favourites to lift the trophy. Based on the predictions New Zealand should win comfortably, and it will be interesting to see if they are correct.
While it is a shame one of the four home nations couldn’t make the final, it should still be one of the closest and most entertaining ever. Let us know who you think will be victorious in the comments below!